Harry Skelton: The Debrief

Monday 21st

Heltenham ran a much better race than he had done previously at Lingfield. Carlisle’s inner hurdles track is quite sharp, and I actually think he could do with a bit more of a galloping track. He’s probably a horse we’re going to have to bide our time with and he should make a chaser in time.

West To The Bridge really toughed it out well. It’s great that he’s won again, as he’s been a good little horse for us. His owner Joe Tierney is a great supporter of ours and I was delighted to get him another winner.

Tuesday 22nd

Gentle Connections ran absolutely fine at Market Rasen, where the ground was probably just on the slow side for her. She hasn’t much experience so I’m sure she’ll come on for that. When she encounters some nicer ground, I think she’ll be a better mare.

Doyouknowwhatimean ran okay, but his best run was probably at Worcester back in the Autumn and he is probably in need of a holiday now. He’s a big five-year-old and is going to take plenty of time to reach his potential. For bumper horses in their first season, I think three runs is quite a lot and some don’t handle it. He’ll be a nice horse going hurdling next season.

Wednesday 23rd

Ridgeway probably bumped into quite a nice horse of Nick Alexander’s at Doncaster. It was only his second start over hurdles, and he jumped nicely, so with a bit more experience I think he’ll be back to winning ways fairly shortly. He’ll be out again soon to give his syndicate plenty of fun.

Message Personnel came straight to us from France in the Autumn and has never had a break. He ran okay, but you could see that during the race he was never really going that well. Even so, he stuck it out well and kept going, which was a positive. It was disappointing not to win, but he’s only a four-year-old and I think he could be a completely different horse next season.

It was really pleasing for Heezer Geezer to win like he did. It’s hard to know what the form amounts to, but the second horse ran well in a Point-to-Point and was quite well thought of, so that gives it a stronger look. I don’t think he’ll run again until he goes hurdling in the Autumn, but this was a fantastic start.

Friday 25th

I’m gutted that Alnadam didn’t win at Warwick. He ran a creditable race but bumped into a good horse of Venetia’s. Whether he’ll go to the Festival, I’m not so sure. He likes soft ground, so hopefully the rain stays around, and he can get his head back in front soon.

Saturday 26th

Flegmatik was great once again. He was dropping back in trip, but his stamina came into play and he stayed on really well at the finish. He’s turned a corner since his wind-op and now he has got back on better ground. We thought that he was quite decent as a juvenile hurdler, when he won at Wetherby on his debut, but it’s just taken time for everything to drop into place with him. Now he’s matured and strengthened up he’s proving to be the horse that we hoped he would be from a young age. He’s really improving and I’m sure Dan has a plan about where we go next with him.

We were a little disappointed with Frere D’Armes. I think he wasn’t quite as sharp and as fresh as he could have been. He seemed well at home, but you can’t know that until they run. Through the race I was never that happy, and I haven’t felt like that on him before. That was his third quick run, so I think he wants a few easy weeks now and we’ll have him back in the spring for a nice handicap. He’s one to keep the faith in.

Beakstown ran well for a long way, but probably didn’t quite see out the three-mile trip. I said in my blog last weekend that we were keen to give the trip a go and I think that answered our question. A drop back in distance is likely next time. I think he’s been a bit unlucky not to win this season, when bumping into some nice horses, and his time will come. He’s entered at the Festival, but I think we might lower our sights a little bit. He’s still a novice over fences, so we have that option.

Sunday 27th

Allmankind was obviously disappointing in the National Spirit at Fontwell. We feel that he gave his absolute all in the Old Roan in the Autumn. That was the race we trained him specifically for, he was very fit that day and he won the race we thought was going to be his big day this year – and it was. On Sunday he ran without a hood on, and he’d schooled very well without it during the week, but on track he never felt like he had any spark. Now we’ll probably change things up a bit and he’ll have one more run in the late spring somewhere before a nice summer holiday.

This week

If Knickerbockerglory goes back to the scene of his bumper victory, at Ludlow on Wednesday, I feel he could get back to winning ways.

Cheltenham preparations

We are another week closer to Cheltenham and so far, touch wood, preparations are going really well. We took Nube Negra, Shan Blue, Protektorat, Too Friendly and West Cork to Warwick last week for a day out. We didn’t go there to gallop them hard, as they’re fit already, but an outing like that just tightens them up. Shan Blue is in fantastic form. He worked really well, and we couldn’t have asked for anymore from him. They’re all where we want them to be right now.








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