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Press Release 20th April 2023 Cheltenham

By Nick Seddon

Dan Skelton has hinted that Walk In Clover (16-1) could head for the Unibet Summer Plate at Market Rasen in July, after defying a lowly mark of 104 to strike in Grade Two company at Cheltenham today, day two of The April Meeting.

The six year old came into today winless in six starts over fences and a stone out of the handicap for the nine-runner Grade Two British EBF Mares' Novices' Limited Handicap Chase Final, though she rarely looked out of her depth.

Tucked in by Tristan Durrell, the daughter of Walk In The Park made steady progress throughout the extended two and a half mile contest before staying on strongly up the hill for an impressive three-length success – providing her jockey with a first win at the Home of Jump Racing in the process.

It sealed a rather remarkable training performance from Skelton, though he revealed after the race that he always had high hopes for his charge.

He said: “That was good. Tristan gave her beautiful ride. I was slightly annoyed when the entries came out, as I actually thought she’d get into the handicap. On a lot of historical runnings she would have got into a lot of them – or just missed out – so I didn’t expect her to miss it by a stone.

“It didn’t put me off running as to be fair to her these are the type of conditions that she needs. She needs a better run race and she’s been a bit of a challenge up to now but that was much more like it.

“The challenge was nothing that wasn’t insurmountable, she had a swerve at the lorries at Worcester on her first start of the year and basically pulled herself up. She was exposed that day but today you can see she’s been smuggled in there and that’s what she likes – she needs that kind of scenario.

“It’s an achievement but I think her rating could easily have been higher if the races she’d run in worked out differently. The race today was a significantly different scenario as they were going to go a fair gallop and it was going to be a truer run race, so I’m very happy.

“It’s important for these mares to get some black type and she’s got a phenomenally good family behind her. She’s by Walk In The Park the sire of the moment and today is an important day for the mares and the breeding industry, so it’s good to get some black type.

“She’s going the right way. She’s going to go up around 15lbs you’d think and we’ll take a reassessment at that point. I don’t know if she has to go right or left-handed I can’t work that out at the moment so it wouldn’t be a million to one that she turned up in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen.

“She’s not good enough for anything at Galway at the moment. At the end of the day she’s got winning black type now, that’s the most important thing for a mare and anything after that is a bonus. She’s a mare for next year that can hopefully go and compete in some of those nice mares’ races that are knocking around.”


Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson revealed that Ahorsewithnoname (7-2) is due to visit Cracksman after picking up a first win over hurdles at the ninth attempt when striking in the Listed Catesby Estates Mares' Novices' Hurdle under Nico de Boinville.

Away from the jumps, the eight year old has won two nice prizes on the Flat as well as finishing fifth in last season’s Cesarewitch, and Henderson added that he hoped that with the daughter of Cacique would be able to have one more start in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

He said: “I don’t need reminding that I’ve had her for three years and we’ve finally won a race! Don’t worry because she’s won plenty on the Flat of course but to be fair we’ve never dropped her down to what you’d call a winning opportunity.

“If we’d have gone for a mares’ only novices’ hurdle she’d have won on the bridle, but she’s been running in Listed races as we’ve been aiming to get black type the whole way through.

“That could easily be her last run. What happens now is we’re going to bring her into season and she’s going to Cracksman. She’s then got 90 days and I’d like to finish up in the Ascot Stakes. She was going to run in it last year but it was too firm. She went on that today, though the Flat boys would probably tell you that’s soft!

“We tried it once before and all I can tell you is the mare ended up in exactly the same place as where we started. She’d won one race before and we managed to win a race with her while she was in foal to Jack Hobbs, but she performed to exactly the same level as she had before – so the conclusion was that it made no difference!

“She’s been a lovely mare. She was second in the mares’ novices’ at the Festival and we went Flat racing, won two lovely pots and finished fifth in a Cesarewitch. It was all to keep her novice status for this year’s Dawn Run – we thought we were being frighteningly clever!

“There was a dose of bad luck in there too though as we also had Queens Rock, we had this race in mind for her all season only for her to trod on a shoe in the stables half an hour ago. I think she’ll probably be alright in two days’ time, but that’s the way it goes.”


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