Grosvenor Sport Harry Skelton

Harry Skelton | If Oldgrangewood handles the ground he will run a big race

Grosvenor Sport ambassador Harry Skelton reviews his week in the saddle and looks ahead to this weekend’s rides at Aintree and Sandown.

The horses have been running really well with nearly all of them knocking on the door – we just need the door to open a bit more. It is frustrating, we’ve had a few nice winners but we’ve had a lot of seconds and if I had a cat it would have some bruises on it! It’s frustrating because it’s happened in some big races which have been key targets for some of our horses.

Wetherby last Saturday

We were gutted when Molly The Dolly fell in the Charlie Hall Chase, she was going well upsides the winner Ballyoptic at the time. Look, of course, it was a long way out but all she does is keep galloping so it was disappointing. She’s come out of it fine and we live to fight another day. There are no plans for her at the moment.

Congratulations to the Twiston-Davies team, they’ve played the start of their season really well. They’ve got their horses out early and they’re really fit. I think having a good stable jockey like Sam is a big help with that. Planning a horse’s season is where a stable jockey really comes to the fore, they can sit down with the trainer and map out a plan.

Ballyoptic had won at Chepstow and was then immediately targeted at the Charlie Hall. It was brilliant training and planning, so well done to them.

We were delighted with Proschema in the novice hurdle. We’ve said all along he needs some better ground, but the Chepstow race has worked out really well. It was great he could win on ground softer than he’d like.

I’m not sure what route we’ll take but we’ll be looking at the big spring handicap hurdles. His jumping was much sharper and he’s learning all the time. Nobody knows what would have happened if the Bannerkingrebel had stayed on his feet because he was running a massive race giving us all that weight.

Two Taffs ran very well in the West Yorkshire Hurdle off such a long break, we couldn’t have been happier with him. We’re not sure where we’ll go next but the main thing is he has come out of the race in one piece and clearly still retains plenty of ability.

He has an entry at Newbury in the Ladbrokes Trophy at the end of the month, but you have to consider the bounce factor – do we run at Newbury or give him a bit more time?

If it was his first run of the season and if he’d raced last year, you’d think he would be going to Newbury with a great chance, but we’ll just have to see nearer the time.

Rest of the week

There were more frustrations in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday where a mistake four out really cost Destrier his momentum. He was running a big race and we weren’t beaten far at the line. Like I say, it’s good that the horses are running well but it is frustrating.

Beakstown will come on again for his run at Newbury on Thursday, I don’t think he quite saw the trip out. At Wetherby he was in front and wandering about a bit, he kind of didn’t have a proper race, but he travelled really well at Newbury and he just got a bit tired on me.

We’re playing the long game. We want to get some more experience into him and hopefully, he’ll win a nice race for his very supportive owners. Champ was very good, he is a class horse and it was an excellent performance on his chasing debut.

Aintree, Saturday

Here are my thoughts on my Aintree races where I have three strong rides.

Oldgrangewood – 2:05

Oldgrangewood has undergone a wind operation and is in really good form at home. He’s done loads of work and if he handles the ground he should run a very big race. It’s a competitive handicap, but if it isn’t too wet he could be my best chance of a winner this weekend.

Diomede Des Mottes – 2:40

Diomede Des Mottes is an improving horse who ran pretty well in the Persian War at Chepstow last time. The step up to three miles should suit and the ground is fine, so we’re hoping for a good performance.

Roksana – 3:15

We’re obviously delighted to have Roksana back on the track and she’s done plenty of work, but she will definitely come on for the run. This is a stepping stone to the spring where he targets will be the Mares’ Hurdle again and then on to Aintree.

Wincanton, Saturday

Solomon Grey – 2:25

Bridget is heading down to Wincanton and Solomon Grey likes nice ground, so hopefully, they won’t get too much rain. He has a bit of experience over fences, winning both his starts at the track in May. He goes there with a chance, but it looks a hot race with Reserve Tank in there.

Cobra De Mai – 3:35

Cobra De Mai ran at Ascot last week and to be honest, he’s handicapped to the hilt at the moment. He needs a bit of help from the handicapper before he’s able to win again. This is always very competitive and Present Man is going for his third straight win so it should be an exciting race to watch.

White Walker – 4:10

White Walker is a nice young horse who will come on plenty for the experience but definitely has a future.

Sandown, Sunday

Protektorat – 1:50

I just have the one ride at Sandown on this horse who is owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, my sponsor Ged Mason and the Hales family. Protektorat ran promisingly in France before coming to us and we didn’t have the season we were hoping for last year. He’s had a wind op and has done loads of work, so let’s hope we see the full potential on the track that we see at home.

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