Leading National Hunt jockey and Grosvenorsport.com ambassador Harry Skelton looks ahead to the Cheltenham Festival next week, as well as all his rides this weekend at Sandown and Warwick.
It has been a bit of a quiet few days for me. I have taken a couple of tumbles in recent weeks and it was just starting to take its toll a little bit.
That’s the lifestyle of a jockey, but with the biggest four days in National Hunt racing just around the corner I took the decision to have a bit of a rest.
I have still been schooling horses at home throughout the week and have quite a few rides this weekend at Sandown and Warwick. Hopefully we’ll find a winner or two before heading to the Festival.
Obviously with the forecast rain the ground at Cheltenham is going to get softer. The best horses can usually cope as long as it’s not terrible, so there shouldn’t be too many concerns for connections.
The hard work for all of our horses going to Cheltenham has been completed now. I schooled a few this week and they’re all in good form. Chtibello runs in the County Hurdle and he has been working really well. It’s just about getting them there now.
Diomede Des Mottes – 1:50
Diomede Des Mottes just dropped in at the bottom of the weights and arrives after a bit of a modest effort at Ludlow last time. If he can replicate his efforts at Exeter and Newbury, he will have more of a chance in what looks a wide-open race. His light weight will certainly help on the heavy ground.
Solomon Grey – 2:25
Bridget [Andrews] got a really nice tune out of Solomon Grey in the Lanzarote at Kempton in January and this has been the race in mind ever since. My only worry is the ground. He is in great form but the testing ground at Sandown is a worry.
Potters Approach – 3:35
Potters Approach is coming back from a winter break having pulled up at Fontwell back in November. Win, lose or draw, we know he will step forward from this race. He took a bit of time to warm up for us at the start of the season and this will get him right.
Bandsman – 4:10
A small field but Bandsman has been a bit out form. I don’t think the handicapper is giving him much of a chance at the moment and he’s not one I would be overly confident about.
Redzor – 5.10 (Hereford)
Bridget heads over to Hereford to ride Redzor and he must have a good chance. He was awarded the race in the stewards’ room at Ludlow last time, with Champagne Well demoted to second. They were nine lengths clear of the third and that looks good form.
Flash The Steel – 1:50
Flash The Steel has a really good chance and is probably my best ride of the weekend. He ran very well at Cheltenham the last day but just bumped into one in Benny’s Bridge. This is a qualifier for Sandown at the end of the season, so fingers crossed he can run his race.
Whatduhavtoget – 2:20
Whatduhavtoget has had a bit of a break from the track and was last season winning back-to-back races here in May. He clearly likes the track, but Harry Fry’s Dalila Du Seuil looks a really nice type and it will be tough to get the better of her.
No Getaway – 3:25
No Getaway’s run at Wetherby last time was okay in the circumstances. They didn’t go quickly enough for him and I think a quicker temp here would give him a bit of a chance.
Global Dream – 3:55
Caroline Bailey is in good form at the moment and it’s always nice to pick up a ride for her. Global Dream was just touched at Warwick last month. He won’t mind the rain and will stay this trip.
Supremely Lucky – 5:00
Supremely Lucky ran pretty well at Uttoxeter last time after two nice runs at Cheltenham. He has a big weight and will need to step up on those runs to win here, but he’s in good form.
Shan Blue – 5:30
My final ride of the weekend comes from point-to-points. Shan Blue is a horse we really like but Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House also looks good. It looks like an interesting race and a few of the runners will be winning down the line.