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Stabletalk: “I think it’s the most open Grand National we’ve seen for a very long time”

| 08.04.2017

Top Trainer and Coral Racing Ambassador Dan Skelton previews his Saturday runners ahead of the big race at 5:15

1.45 Aintree – No Hassle Hoff

He’s just snuck in at the bottom of the weights and brings two Grade 2 seconds to the table. He’s nicely handicapped on that form. As long as the season hasn’t caught up with him he will be very, competitive in this. That’s the only thing you don’t know at this time of year as it doesn’t affect all the horses obviously. An example of this isTop Notch yesterday run, he was the best horse in the race but the season must have caught up with him as he ran flat and way below form.No Hassle Hoff has had a little break since his last race so I’m hopeful that won’t be the case, but you never know for sure. He wants a fast run race so I’m happy with this big field contest for him.

2.25 Aintree – Captain Forez

Captain Forez has a bit to find on the numbers with a few of these. Finian’s Oscar is the highest rated and on the ratings he has 18lbs to find with him though not as much with some of the others. I do think this horse will run well. Two and a half miles around here will really suit him. I’m not saying he’s going to win but he will run well. He’s only a five year old and if he starts next season as a novice that would hardly be a bad thing. At the same time you wouldn’t be disappointed to win a Grade 1!

3.40 Aintree – Value At Risk

I’m very happy with him coming into this. It was a bit of a disaster that we couldn’t run him at Cheltenham. It was just before morning declarations that he gave his hind leg a knock and a little infection set in so I couldn’t run him. It was very disappointing, particularly for the owner who owns and bred him. He goes there fresh, and has the cheek pieces on for the first time. It’s also his first run over three miles over fences so we’ve taken the gloves off and are going for it all.


4.20 Aintree – Three Musketeers

We’re running him back over hurdles as I felt that he was not quite as committed over fences as he needs to be. The last time he ran in a hurdle he was third in a Grade 1. He’s a horse we’ve always rated highly. We just have to see how he gets on back over hurdles. He won’t be last put it that way but at the same time we need to see where we are with him. He is a “graded” horse, but whether he’s quite a Grade 1 horse that’s the question. He’s only a seven year old so we’ve still got time to find out the answer to that, but he needs to start answering that question now.

5.15 Aintree – GRAND NATIONAL

I think it’s the most open Grand National we’ve seen for a very long time. Horses carrying lots of weight can win the race these days and More Of That is a high class horse. You’d have to consider him. Blaklion looks nice in there off his weight given he was a Grade 1 winner last year. Vieux Lion Rouge must have a massive chance given you know he can jump round there but I just wonder if he’s shown his hand already? If he’s a 160 horse then he’s still well in but he’ll need to be. I still think he’s going to run a huge race. I’d give Definitly Red a chance. At a big price I’d give Houblon Des Obeaux a decent chance. Those are the horses I’m looking at but at the end of the day it’s the Grand National. 100/1 chances have won, 66/1 chances. A maiden over fences won it last year. It’s a great race. It’s frustrating not to have a runner but we’ll have one, it just takes time to make those horses.

6.05 Aintree – Born Survivor

He has to give weight away all round. He did run very well at two and a half miles here in November and every time he’s run over two and a half miles he’s travelled very well, and if you stopped the race at two miles he’d look the winner. He’s conned me in to thinking he’s a stayer. Maybe he’s a shorter distance horse, so we’re having a go over two miles. We expect him to run well and he could win but obviously we are trying a different trip with him. He’ll go chasing next year.


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Dan Skelton

Dan has worked with horses for his whole life and spent nine years as Assistant Trainer to Champion National Hunt Trainer Paul Nicholls. With that invaluable experience under his belt, he has embarked on his own training career and now has almost 200 winners under his belt, including Willow’s Saviour’s memorable victory in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot. Dan will be providing a unique insight into his horses and their chances exclusively for Coral.