Ladbrokes ambassador Dan Skelton talks about his chances on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and gives Apple’s Jade the edge in the Champion Hurdle.
We are very excited that Cheltenham is upon us. We start with Tokay Dokey in the Supreme.
He fell last time and he took a few days to get over the fall but we’ve always held him in high regard and felt that he could be a contender in these big novice hurdles. We were hoping to have him ready for here and Aintree post kempton.
In the Ultima Handicap, Crucial Role has won two races at Uttoxeter with absolute authority.
He stays well and he will like the softer ground. He is a novice in a handicap which is always a positive. I think he has a fighting chance.
His price (16/1) is representative of his chance in a very competitive race. We can ride him fairly positively; He’s not one of those horses who requires everything to go right for him as you would a horse that needs dropping out.
We do obviously need luck in every race you run in. How he’ll handle the track, I don’t really know.
He’s not a complicated horse so if he handles it for the first circuit he’ll be absolutely fine. If he’s in with a chance at the bottom of the hill, he’ll stay up the hill well.
In the same race we run Oldgrangewood, who definitely wants the step up in trip.
I am a bit worried that the ground is too soft for him. We wouldn’t want any significant overnight rain. He is coming down the weights and he’s proved he can win good handicaps.
Roksana is next in the Mares’ Hurdle. She is one of the leading English chances in the betting. I was really happy with her in the race at Sandown in the build up to this which was over two miles.
She’s not anything like a two-miler but she ran really well. She’s stepped forward from that and we are absolutely delighted with her going into this race.
The trip and the rain are all positive things for her. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for Benie Des Dieux. Ruby Walsh says it his best chance of the week so that isn’t going to be easy.
In the Champion Hurdle, I think it is between Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade.
I am struggling to split them. Buveur D’Air was in front a long way out at Kempton which is unusual for him when he got beat.
He’ll be a much tighter, fitter horse coming for his third Champion Hurdle but I do feel he is facing the hardest task yet against Apple’s Jade.
Giving her 7lbs allowance, it won’t be easy; she’s been so good this year. If I was pushed, I’d just side with Apple’s Jade given the allowance. The rest are playing for third.