Harry Skelton Debrief: Dreaming of the Gold Cup with Protektorat

Sunday 5 December

Allmankind was a little disappointing in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon. He gave so much in the Old Roan the time before and that might have taken its toll. He didn’t run his normal race, and something might come to light over the next few days, as we all know he’s better than that. He’ll have one run now to set him up for the Melling Chase at Aintree.

Over in Ireland there was some top-class action and Energumene looked to get his season off to the perfect start in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork. They went a blistering gallop up front when he was taken on by Notebook and he fought him off well, so it was a very impressive performance.

You’d have to be impressed with Allaho too in the John Durkan, especially as I see that the Mullins camp didn’t think he was quite at his best as well. That’s a positive really if they think he can be better than he showed on Sunday.

It was a bit disappointing though from Envoi Allen. Obviously, he’s had a few problems in the past and it looked as though there was just something amiss with him.

Saturday 4 December

I don’t think the track at Sandown suited Third Time Lucki. It’s very much a test of stamina, as when you leave the back straight it’s uphill all the way to the line. That didn’t play to his strengths and he may have got stuck in the ground a little bit too.

We’ll be back on better ground in the spring with him. I expect he’ll have one run and then go for the Arkle. Cheltenham really suits him as, unlike Sandown, the downhill stretches give you the chance to fill up and give him a breather.

It was a shame that Nube Negra couldn’t get into contention in the Tingle Creek, but he just didn’t feel his usual self. He’s a horse that likes to have a good break between his races, but he was showing us all the right signs at home and as there is only one Tingle Creek, we thought we’d have a go.

It didn’t work out, but he didn’t have a hard race as I knew that I was beaten fairly early on. All roads now lead straight to the Champion Chase where we’ll have him fresh and well.

Protektorat was just awesome in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree. The step up in trip to 3 miles was always going to suit him. He’s been a work in progress since he came to us as a three-year-old, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and he’s now showing us all the potential that we knew he had.

I’m delighted for Bridget. It was a big day, on the big stage, and as usual when she gets the opportunities she really delivers. It’s given me so much pleasure watching them win.

I’m thrilled for all the connections too as they have a really top-class horse on their hands and we’re all dreaming of the Gold Cup with him. We’re not sure yet about his next target between now and then.

Friday 3 December

At Sandown on Friday, Viva La Villa ran a nice race and just looked to bump into a smart performer. He travelled into the race nicely but got a bit tired from the back of the last hurdle. He’s only a five-year-old and he is very much a horse for the future. I think we’ll see the best of him when he gets a bit stronger and goes over fences.

Thursday 2 December

Go Steady surprised us a little at Leicester as we thought he might have been better for the run and we still think that now. His hurdles mark is a lot lower than his chase mark so that gave him a nice chance on his first run back after a wind operation. Hopefully there’s plenty more to come.

Nurse Susan did the job nicely and is a mare that we’ve always really liked. She’s got a brilliant attitude and never seems to be phased by anything. She’s got bundles of potential and we hope that one day she will prove herself to be top class.

Wednesday 1 December

It was absolutely brilliant to win the veterans’ chase at Haydock with Blaklion. He gave me a great ride and very much deserved it. He’s just a real warrior of a horse and still seems to be enjoying his racing. Veterans’ races are such a great addition to the racing calendar as they give horses like him a chance to compete for good prizes. The veterans’ series final at Sandown is definitely something we’ll have to look at, but nothing’s set in stone for now.

Tuesday 30 November

It was good to get Lydford’s head in front and I think the better ground at Southwell suited him. He jumped the brush hurdles nicely and was well on top at the finish. He was obviously quite a decent horse on the Flat so hopefully there is more progression to come from him. I see him more as a spring horse as livelier ground definitely suits him.

Across The Line finished his race strongly and got on top in the end. Like last year, he’s taken a couple of runs to really get going but I think he should be progressive now and give his owners plenty of fun.

This Week – One To Watch

We run a horse at Warwick on Thursday called Our Jet. He ran very encouragingly at Aintree first time up, when beaten by a horse that subsequently went and won again well at Wetherby last Saturday. The fifth placed horse in Our Jet’s race has also won since, so the form looks strong and hopefully he’ll take a bit of beating.

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