Ladbrokes’ Dan Skelton discusses his weekend entries

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We’re really looking forward to the last few weeks of the season now, even though the weather has put a bit of a dampener on things lately.

I was kind of hoping we’d be able to beat Paul Nicholls’ record of 171 winners last year, not through necessity but purely ambition, and given how well we started we had set ourselves it as a target.

The weather has hampered us and so we are down on runners which cost us but we’ve still had a magical year. We’ve had 149 winners so hopefully we’ll hit the 150 on Saturday.

We’ve got the best team we’ve ever sent to Aintree, an equally good team to send to Ayr and I absolutely love these end of year fixtures.

They’re great fun and the horses are ready for them. We just need to get a few dry days before Aintree.

We’ve got some exciting runners to look forward to at Aintree.

Momella runs in the two and a half mile Grade 1 hurdle. Rene’s Girl runs in the Grade 1 novice chase on the Thursday.

Shantou Rock runs in the Grade 1 novice chase taking on Footpad.  In the handicaps we’ve got Hear No Evil; possibly Nube Negra in the Grade 1 Juvenile hurdle.

We are going to have runners in most of the races. It’s a strong team

We’ve plenty of horses to run over the summer too. A good few of these will be for the Rio Gold Racing Club (http://danskeltonracing.com/rio-gold-racing/) which we run.

It’s £3,000 for the year and we have fourteen horses running for the Club. We are going to have two runners up at the Ayr meeting.

One on the Friday and one on the Saturday, and then we’re looking forward to a fantastic summer.

The Rio Gold Racing Club had 19 winners last year which was fantastic for the Club members. The enthusiasm and support it’s created has been brilliant and long may it continue.

Harry has recovered really well from the nasty fall he took at Cheltenham. He missed a few days as it was a head injury, and then he rode a winner on his first ride back which is always a good feeling.

He’s not had much of a chance to add to that tally since but we’ll be hoping for some luck over the next few weeks.

SaturdayFakenham

It’s great news that Fakenham has been put on as a replacement fixture after all the abandonments.

It had looked a quiet spell of racing until the BHA put these extra meetings on. It’s also good news that Kelso and Uttoxeter has survived.

Kelso in particular is putting on some good racing with great prize money, it’s just that the ground isn’t right for any of our horses unfortunately, so we’ll sit it out.

2.15 – Excellent Team & Ashkoul

Ashkoul obviously has a lot of weight in this race but I’m very happy with how he has progressed this year.

Fergus Gregory is taking seven pounds off his back which is really helpful as he’s carrying a big weight. He’s a horse I think can be really competitive during the spring.

Harry will be on Excellent Team but sadly his form just hasn’t been there of late.

He won us a race at the back end of the summer but he might well need really good ground to get the best out of him again. He won a race this time last year so hopefully we’re getting there.

2.50 – Ckalco Des Loges

There aren’t that many runners in this race and whilst he’s another that has struggled for form it does look like it’s starting to come back and I do give him a little chance in this.

4.00 – Sir Mangan & Theatrebar

Sir Mangan just seems to have gone off fences at the moment and we’re trying to get him back to his best over hurdles.

The signs are there, with a couple of okay runs which has been good, but I think he is probably still too high in the handicap.

Theatrebar has gaps between his races and he isn’t the easiest to train but he’s got a good deal of ability.

He’s been off the track for a while but over two and a half miles around Fakenham he should stay all the way and is a decent horse on his day.

4.35 – Sam Red

He’s the top rated horse in this race which is helpful but he is not the most consistent.

If he can put his best foot forward he’ll be really competitive and we’ll need to hope he’s back to his best like he was back in the autumn. He has won round Fakenham before which is certainly a boost.

Carlisle (Sunday)

3.25 – Sea of Mystery

It’s still early days but we did think this horse would be a bit better than he has been so far.

We’re hopeful that he can start to show some improvement here.

5.30 – Finley’s Eyes

Finley’s Eyes has been waiting to run for a while now. He looks a lovely bumper horse and we like him on home work.

It’s hard to know what you’re up against in these types of races as there could be a superstar lurking in there but we certainly like ours.

We’re hoping he will be a nice horse in the future.

Dan

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Dan Skelton

Since starting out on his own, Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton has assembled one of the most exciting stables in National Hunt racing. Having enjoyed their first Cheltenham Festival success with Superb Story in 2016, Skelton and the team are hungry for more. Get the latest from the Lodge Hill maestro exclusively at Ladbrokes News.