Trainer Dan Skelton and his jockey brother Harry brought up a near 46-1 double on Grand National Day when Midnight River won the William Hill Handicap Chase.
Dan Skelton said: Dan Skelton (Midnight River) told Racing TV: “The only day I’ve not had him right, and I thought I had him right, was at Cheltenham. I thought I had him spot on, but sometimes they don’t perform. Maybe the ground was a bit tacky that day? But the step up in trip today has certainly helped – it was always a question of when we did that, not if we did that. He is just progressive, he is getting the hang of racing in handicaps now, and hopefully there is the next level.
“He got a great start and when you get a great start in any race, you can be where you want to be. He was never chasing to be where he wanted to be, he actually had the luxury of coming back a few spots. I was a bit concerned that a horse as good as Eldorado Allen was getting a soft lead and it was helpful, perhaps, when a couple came round us to push on and Harry obviously felt confident going to the last that he had enough to pick up. The jump at the last was necessary, without that, we wouldn’t have won. But perhaps only a horse with a bit left in the locker can jump like that.”
On the next plans for the horse, he added: “It will be one run and then the Coral at Newbury, then we will see. 100% he can [make the jump into graded company], I’m not all of a sudden going to say that the Gold Cup horses need to get frightened, because there’s a long way to go from that. But there is a gap, an area just below that Grade One standard and he is certainly a horse to fill that. Whether he can take that Grade One level? That’s up to him, he needs to keep improving, I’ll do my best to help him rather than hinder him to do that. But he definitely belongs just below that Grade One level in my opinion.”
On Kateira in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, he said: “She ran out her skin. You can say, ‘oh there you go, you’ve goosed a really good handicap mark’. But she was always better than her handicap mark, it did take a little bit of avoiding going in a handicap, I always had aspirations to come here with her in that graded race. I don’t feel like she needs to be in handicaps at the moment, so although it was a very tempting handicap mark, that’s gone. She quickened up well, fair play to the winner. We quickened up five lengths, and he had gone five lengths. I don’t think we will ever beat the winner, and there’s probably a handful of horses in the world she will never beat as well – she’s not a Constitution Hill, but she is very good and against the mares next year, I think you could find that she could be one of the best.”
Harry Skelton said: : “He was absolutely fantastic, and gave me a dream ride round. He was always travelling very easily. The step up in trip has definitely helped this horse - he finished really well. He can have the nice long holiday that he deserves, and he will be a nice horse to go with next year. I think he’s a proper improver, you know - there’s still more to come from this horse, and he’s definitely going the right way.
“I’ve been long enough in the game now that it certainly keeps your feet on the floor, but you enjoy it when it goes right, and you have to get up and go when it’s not going right. You’ve no choice, really!”
Harry Redknapp, owner of Shakem Up’Arry (fourth) and joint owner of Bowtogreatness (second) He said: “Shakem Up’Arry stayed well and jumped like a stag. He didn’t make one mistake the whole way round. He has run a blinder. I fancied Shakem Up’Arry and Ben (Pauling) was quite bullish about Bowtogreatness. Coming to the last I thought I was going to have the forecast. Bowtogreatness just missed the last and that probably just cost him.
“Dan (Skelton) fancied Midnight River at Cheltenham and that was his nap, but we beat him quite away that day (with Shakem Up’Arry).”
Ben Pauling, trainer of Shakem Up’Arry and Bowtogreatness
He said: “It was Shakem Up’Arry’s first time over three miles but he stays. I just think that he has got one gear. He is relentless and I think we just have to time our run slightly better. If he stays that trip he might stay further and further. He is a phenomenal jumper. I think he could line up in the Grand National next year. He jumped class, travelled brilliant, and looked like the winner but he just doesn’t quicken. The other lad, Bowtogreatness, has always been a horse that we have loved. We thought if he was going to win one it might as well be a big one, but he still has his novice status for next season now. I think he is pretty versatile trip wise. We like him but he has been very disappointing this season to be honest. I think he has taken a while for the penny to drop as he was bit keen early doors in the season. We tried dropping him out with ear plugs but we didn’t pick up anything. It hasn’t been a great season for him but that was not a bad end.”
Sam England, trainer of Kinondo Kewtu (3rd)
She said: “Better ground would have seen him to better effect but he has coped with that admirably. I was really happy when I was watching the racing on Thursday then it tipped it down with rain Thursday and I was like ‘oh no’ as he wants genuinely good ground. He has run a blinder so we have to be delighted. He is only young and there are loads of options for him. He had a break over Christmas so he can go over the summer now. He probably won’t go to Ayr next week, but there are races like the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter for him.”
4.15pm William Hill Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 3m1f
1 Midnight River 15/2
2 Bowtogreatness 12/1
3 Kinondo Kwetu 10/1
Distances: 1½l, 4¼l, 2l