Harry Skelton Debrief: My Drogo learns a lot at Cheltenham

Saturday 11 December

We were delighted with My Drogo. We knew we had to get that out of the way and a good clear round was first and foremost. There’s lots to take out of it. As everyone saw on Saturday, he was full of enthusiasm and wanted to get on with it. Once I let him go to the front down the back, he had a bit of a look and jumped well in the main, with only a couple of novicey mistakes. 

I think people forget he had his first run in a bumper last year, so he’s got very little experience. He’ll have learnt an awful lot from that. I’d have thought we’ll go for the Dipper next.

Ballygrifincottage ran a very promising race. He’s a proper three miler and as you’d expect he took a bit of time to warm to the task, as it was his first run under-rules. He is a six-year-old and a three-time point-to-point winner, though, so we thought he was ready to run in a race like this. 

You need to be hardy to run over three miles as a novice, but we thought he could take it and he proved he could. We’re absolutely delighted with that run. We’re not sure yet where he’ll go next but we might go low-key in a maiden hurdle and see where it takes us in the spring. The Albert Bartlett is definitely an option. 

Beakstown was disappointing. He ran a really encouraging race at Aintree on his first run back after a year off, but never got into any rhythm at Cheltenham. His jumping was very careful, which isn’t like him.  It may have been a case of the “bounce factor” which can mean they don’t run as well second time out after a long lay-off. He’s better than that performance, though, and I think we just need to put a line through it and move on. He’s a novice over fences, so I’d have thought a novice chase would be on the cards next.

Wilde About Oscar was also disappointing.He looked like he was going to run well at Aintree last time, but then stopped late on and he did the same again here over two miles. He’s a better horse than that and we just have to try and find out what’s gone amiss with him. 

At Doncaster, Too Friendly ran a nice race for Bridget. He probably could have done with a stronger pace. He never quite looked like being able to land a blow, but stayed on well to the line. It was soft ground when he ran last time at Newcastle but that probably helped him, as although he is a strong travelling horse, he also looks like a stayer. He ran a nice race behind some good horses and I’d have thought the Fred Winter will be his spring target.

Friday 10 December

It was obviously disappointing to finish where we did, but the race wasn’t run to suit Hartur D’Oudaries in the opener at Cheltenham. Once you let this horse down, he’s a proper galloper and with the slow pace that they went it didn’t suit us at all. He’s a lot better than that. He will be given plenty of time before his next run, as he’s just a big baby and remains a work in progress.

All connections were really happy with Santini. He travelled and jumped really nicely. He was the only one that raced with the winner but was carrying 26 pounds more, so it was always going to be tough. He got a bit tired which we thought he would, but everyone was pleased with his first run. I think connections will now want to head to the Cotswold Chase.

Thursday 9 December

Our Jet, the horse I mentioned to look out for last week, was a bit disappointing at Warwick. He travels a bit too well in his races and doesn’t seem to be seeing them out at the moment. He’s quite a big, weak horse and is probably a chaser in the making. That was a bit of a step backwards and we’re not sure why yet, but we’ll give him plenty of time before his next run.

Emma’s Joy ran okay in the Listed mares’ novice chase. I thought from the back of two out she just couldn’t pick up and stay on with the leaders. She’ll go back into calmer waters now as her first two runs of the season have been in Listed class. She’s a mare to keep an eye on once she drops in grade and she’ll be back winning races soon.

Tuesday 7 December

Uttoxeter’s been good to us and to go there and get a treble was great.

Get A Tonic is really improving and going the right way. I probably found myself in font a little bit too soon, but she quickened so well from two out and probably idled a bit in front. She’s a progressive mare and hopefully she won’t be too far off Graded class if she keeps the improvement going.

Dorisa Queen stayed on well and showed a really good attitude. It was great for her owner-breeder Rita Vaughan. She’s sent two mares to us now and they’ve both won.

Cousu Main won his maiden hurdle well and showed no ill effects from his fall at Lingfield. I think he had improved from that race and he won nicely. He’s a horse that has always shown a lot of ability at home, but he’s still quite tall and weak, so he’s by no means the finished article. We’ll stay low-key with him for now, as he needs to get plenty of experience as he can be novicey at his hurdles. He’s got a lot to improve upon, but he’s got a big engine.

Monday 6 December

Fancy Stuff kicked the week off well at Ludlow. She was receiving the mares’ allowance there but won very well and showed a good attitude. She had won a point-to-point previously so perhaps knew her job a little bit. She’s only a four-year-old and she looks a nice mare for the future. We may look at a Listed or Graded race in the spring for her and to get some black type would be brilliant.

This week

We’ve got a few runners this week. One nice horse we run at Exeter on Thursday is Lac De Constance. He ran okay in two bumpers last season, but he’s a big horse and the time off has done him the world of good. He makes his hurdling debut and we hope he’ll run very well.








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