Dan Skelton: recorded a first festival winner with Superb Story last season
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Nicholas Godfrey 10:30AM 25 OCT 2016
LAST season was marked by series of firsts for Dan Skelton: a first century of winners, breaking the million-pound prize-money barrier for the first time, and a first festival winner with Superb Story’s County Hurdle.
Yet while the former Paul Nicholls assistant has never made any secret of his ambitious nature – Skelton wants to be champion trainer, full stop – targets for 2016-17 aren’t quite so vaunting.
“I think 100 winners and a million pounds is the benchmark for the top echelon of National Hunt trainers so I’d like to do the same again,” he says. “We just want to keep doing better and better but that’s what I’ve got in mind.”
Heading to Cheltenham
One of Skelton’s potential stars over fences is Its’afreebee, who was an impressive scorer on his chase debut at Fakenham earlier this month.
Skelton said: “He has been amazing for us – he always tries really hard and never complains, no matter what the weather or conditions are. He improved beyond all recognition over hurdles last year and looked good winning at Fakenham on chase debut – that’s not an easy track to jump round, though no-one was putting him under real pressure so we didn’t learn a lot.
“He’ll go for the £25,000 novice chase at Cheltenham on Friday of the November meeting – Cheltenham and Aintree are obviously the end-of-season targets.”
Roe to be aimed at Challow
Another leading hope who enjoyed a successful return to action is Robin Roe, an easy winner at Aintree on Sunday and Skelton is planning to step the Barbara Hester-owned five-year-old up in grade.
He said: “We knew he was very good before Aintree on Sunday, where obviously we were delighted with him. We hoped he would do something like that but it was great to see it happen.
“He travelled and jumped well and sprinted away, and looks very exciting. Given how professional he was, there’s probably no need to give him another run in an ordinary novice so we’ll go to the Challow. You can always drop back in grade in spring if you need to but he’s a horse we like. You’ve got to dream when they look as good as he did.”
Read the full Dan Skelton Stable Tour in today’s Racing Post, also available on the iPad edition now