Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Talking Trainers - Part VII

12-October-2023 16:29
in General
by Admin

DAN SKELTON - Lodge Hill, Shelfield Green, Shelfied, Alcester, Warwickshire

Horses covered: 56

Paul Nicholls' former assistant had a superb winter last year with his 133 winners earning record prize-money of £2,614,206. The yard won a succession of big prizes during the first half of the campaign with Protektorat (Betfair Chase), Le Milos (Coral Gold Cup) and Ashtown Lad (Becher Chase). Skelton didn't do too badly during the second half of the season either with two Cheltenham Festival winners and another brace at Aintree on Grand National day. Lodge Hill Stables is blessed with a good mix of youth and experience in terms of equine talent and the squad has been enhanced still further during the 'off season.' The Warwickshire based handler looks strong in the novice department both over hurdles and fences. The stable's runners have an impressive strike-rate at the following tracks: Ayr (21 winners from 88 runners (24%)), Catterick (16 from 60 (27%)), Fakenham (23 from 99 (23%)), Hereford (26 from 97 (27%)), Hexham (10 from 28 (36%)), Leicester (25 from 82 (30%)), Lingfield (13 from 48 (27%)), Market Rasen (84 from 359 (23%)), Newcastle (14 from 59 (24%)), Perth (10 from 32 (31%)), Uttoxeter (110 from 460 (24%)) and Wetherby (80 from 273 (29%)). Skelton invariably runs his smart novices at the last named track - his Grade 2 winning novice hurdler Grey Dawning is set to make his chase debut at the West Yorkshire early next month.

Talking of novice chasers, Dan commented on page 131 regarding a potential exciting recruit to the larger obstacles: "Given a long summer break, I think he will be a completely different horse this season. The plan is to go chasing."

JAMIE SNOWDEN - Folly House, Upper Lambourn, Berkshire

Horses covered: 25

Cheltenham Festival winning handler Jamie Snowden is another who earned record prize-money last term with his 44 winners amassing £703,949. They included three Grade 2 wins, including You Wear It Well's victory in the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, while Ga Law captured the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the same venue in November. A former assistant to Nicky Henderson, Jamie has recruited well from Ireland in recent years and that trend looks set to continue this winter. Not afraid to pot hunt in the north, I suggest taking note of the stable's runners at Carlisle (6 from 22 (27%)), Catterick (13 from 27 (48%)), Haydock (9 from 32 (28%)), Hexham (9 from 34 (26%)), Kelso (3 from 11 (27%)) and Newcastle (3 from 8 (38%)).

Jamie commented on page 138 of One Jump Ahead about a youngster: "We are very much looking forward to sending him over fences - he always jumped hurdles like a future chaser. I can't wait to run him in a two and a half miles novices' handicap chase."

The Talking Trainers section of One Jump Ahead was amongst the winners at Worcester on Thursday with Lady Adare (3/1) winning on her chasing debut. Harry Fry's mare has suffered with breathing issues in the past and following her two and a half lengths victory, it is hoping those problems are behind her. 

The National Hunt season steps up a gear over the next couple of days with Chepstow staging excellent cards on Friday and Saturday and then next week, Wetherby and Carlisle host their first meetings of the campaign. It is therefore the ideal time to order a copy of One Jump Ahead and the Updates, if you haven't already done so. I am working at York on Friday and Saturday but will certainly be keeping an eye on the action in South Wales. I will update the Diary over the weekend.

News broke on Thursday that the Grand National field will be reduced from 40 to 34 runners next year. While safety is paramount, one can't help thinking it is the thin end of the wedge - such a decision is pampering to the protestors and they will feel they have got a result offering them further encouragement to disrupt next April's event.




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