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Press Release 2nd November 2022 Cheltenham

By Nick Seddon

Dan Skelton has revealed that he is relishing the prospect of a mouth-watering clash between stable star Nube Negra and last season’s leading novice Edwardstone in the Grade Two Shloer Chase on day three of The November Meeting at Cheltenham (Sunday 13th November).

The eight year old took the notable scalps of two champion chasers in Put The Kettle On and Politologue when winning the race in some style 12 months ago, though Skelton opted against running his charge in the Betway Champion Chase at The Festival™ at the last minute due to rain on the big day.

The son of Dink then disappointed on his final start in the Grade One Celebration Chase at Sandown Park in April and he will face a graduating novice in Edwardstone who couldn’t have been much more impressive when winning the Grade One Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase for Alan King in March.

However, Skelton feels that there are mitigating circumstances around Nube Negra’s two poor runs at Sandown last term and he’s hoping that we will see a different proposition in a fortnight’s time. 

Speaking at a stable visit today organised by The Jockey Club, Skelton said: “There will be two very different mind sets between us and Alan King going into next week – one will want rain and one won’t! He can run on Good To Soft, especially when he’s fresh, but it’s very much the better ground, the better the horse with him.

“He’s been to the grass gallop this morning and had a good day out and worked as well as I’ve ever seen him to be honest. I think as he’s getting a bit older he’s drawing just a bit of stamina and he’s looking outstanding, so I couldn’t be happier.

“He’s irritatingly good fresh if that makes sense, as it’s hard to back up a good race in quick succession. You have to give him these extended breaks between races, but we’ll see how we get on at Cheltenham. We would love to win the race again and if it happens we will make a plan after that. If we get beaten we’d have to go hunting for a race but if he can win it will take the pressure off as he can’t have a bad year so to speak.

“Edwardstone is a mightily high-class opponent, albeit one who is stepping out of novice company for the first time, so we’ve got a task on our hands.

“It was a massive blow to miss out on the Champion Chase, but when the conditions went the way they did it wasn’t a blow at all. If I’d have run him he could still have been out there now, but it was a blow to get that rain and miss out – of course it was.

“There’s unfinished business for sure and we’d love to get a fair crack at the race again in suitable conditions, but that’s in the lap of the gods as you saw last year.”

Skelton will have a strong squad for the three-day November Meeting at Cheltenham, which runs from 11th - 13th November, with the feature race being the £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Saturday 12th November) over two and a half miles.

The yard has three runners for the contest at the time of writing, but Skelton’s main hope for the race is Midnight River, who is currently a 10-1 chance with Paddy Power. The seven year old returned to the racecourse with a facile 25-length success at Stratford last month and while his participation isn’t guaranteed, his trainer feels that there could well be plenty more to come yet from his charge.

Skelton said: “It would need to rain and rain and rain for this horse. I would certainly not be running him on anything other than Good To Soft, Soft but we’ve always held this horse in high regard

“We ran him in Graded novice hurdles over timber and last year started disastrously over fences - he head-butted several fences early on and did a cartwheel at the end.

“We then had to rebuild his season and he ended up winning a race at Wetherby and showing a really good attitude. He was only ever going to take a step forward, you were only ever seeing a small percentage of the ability he had (last term) so I was happy to see him take a step forward at Stratford and at least show at the track what he’d been showing at home.

“I think that there’s a lot more to come from this horse and if it isn’t soft enough we’ll re-route to the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Ultimately I can see him stepping up to three miles in the spring but this is a good horse and it wouldn’t surprise me if he took a leap up to Grade Two level this season.”

Meanwhile, Skelton hasn’t ruled out the possibility of last year’s Unibet Greatwood Hurdle hero West Cork returning for another crack at the race, for which he is currently a 9-1 chance with the sponsor. The eight year old made a solid start to life over fences when second behind Stage Star in a warm-looking novice at Warwick 24 hours ago and Skelton admitted that he would be monitoring the situation.

He explained: “He ran West Cork over fences yesterday and he was beaten by Stage Star, which was a perfectly acceptable run. I spoke to Mike (Newbould) who owns him at length last night and we said we’d just keep an eye on the Greatwood in case it looked appropriate for us to go back over hurdles.

“If plenty of rain came Playful Saint wouldn’t be without a chance and he’s got no weight, while Calico is entered but goes over fences. We’re a little bit thinner than we have in the past, but if it rained a lot Playful Saint would be no back number.”


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