Stabletalk: “He’s in very good order and I think he’s not without a chance in a very open race”


Top trainer Dan Skelton previews his runners on Day One of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival exclusively for Coral…

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – 1.30 Cheltenham

I went through the race on the way home from the Coral Cheltenham Festival preview last night and I came to the conclusion that Mohaayed was going to struggle to finish in the top four in this race. He does however have a nice handicap mark so we have decided to keep him back for another day; he won’t run in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Champion Hurdle – 3.30 Cheltenham

I am really happy with Ch’tibello. I’m glad I gave him the time to come right for this race and hopefully we will get some reward for that. He is in very good order and I think he is not without a chance in a very open race. There will be plenty of pace and everything goes up together in the Champion Hurdle so there are no special tactics for this race. The drying ground is perfect for him so fingers crossed he can run a big race.

Mares’ Hurdle – 4.10 Cheltenham

On numbers Debdebdeb has a lot on her plate in this race, but the form of her December runs looks good. With Limini, Vroum Vroum Mag and Apple’s Jade all running it makes the task a lot more difficult but we are happy with her. She is good around the track but she is going to need to be if she is to get in the frame here.

Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase – 5.30

Sadly Value At Risk won’t run in this race now as we went into his box this morning to find he’d banged his leg. We did everything we could to get all the swelling down but he still looks a little tender around the joint. We could have declared him with the tiny chance he will be ok tomorrow but the truth of the matter is he would most likely be a non-runner tomorrow. I have done the professional thing and taken him out, as to declare him knowing he’d most likely not run would deprive someone else of a Festival runner. It’s an unfortunate end to the Cheltenham dream for him this year. I just wanted a chance with him as he is such a nice horse but hopefully he can return for the final month of the season as there are still some big races at Aintree and Punchestown.

We still have two runners in the race. Over the last 10 days Its’afreebee has really come to himself and he looks fantastic. His form in the Neptune last year is outstanding and if he can reproduce that he will have a massive chance. He has just turned the corner at home and let’s hope we get a bit of luck. I also run Two Taffs who I am also happy with. The pair of them will be wearing cheekpieces. Two Taffs is going to get everything he likes in that it will be a fast run race, the ground is perfect and he loves the trip. You can make a strong case for both of my horses here.



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