Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Sporting ExcitementSporting Excitement

Horse Racing

Trainer Dan Skelton not afraid of Irish as he prepares Protektorat and Nube Negra for Cheltenham Festival targets

, Trainer Dan Skelton not afraid of Irish as he prepares Protektorat and Nube Negra for Cheltenham Festival targets

DAN SKELTON isn’t worrying about the strength of the Irish challenge at Cheltenham.

The top trainer will lead the British resistance at next month’s Festival, alongside the likes of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls.

Protektorat is the leading British challenger in this year’s Gold Cup

Last season, Irish-trained runners were dominant, winning an incredible 23 of the 28 races at the four-day meeting.

And horses trained by Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead currently boss the majority of the antepost betting markets.

But Skelton has not had his confidence knocked, despite a string of impressive performances from some of Irish jump racing’s big guns in recent weeks.

He will be hopeful of adding to his haul of four Festival winners, with Gold Cup hope Protektorat and Champion Chase runner Nube Negra among his big contenders.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Protektorat, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, is as short as 8-1 with Coral for the Festival showpiece, while Nube Negra, who was a close second to Put The Kettle On in last year’s Champion Chase, is a 10-1 shot with SkyBet.

Skelton said: “I’m very happy with where our horses are, they both head straight to Cheltenham, worked this morning and went nicely.

“They have got hard races coming their way – but that’s what happens in Champion Chases and Gold Cups.

“I’m very happy with our horses and that’s all we can be really.

“Does watching them in Ireland change anything? Not really. I feel it’s a very open Gold Cup.

“Every time a Gold Cup contender has raced in a Gold Cup trial, there’s been a different winner and Conflated chucked his hat into the ring at the weekend.

“I feel it’s a high quality Gold Cup, but quite an open one and I’m delighted to have my horse in the form that’s he in at the moment to go there.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Chacun Pour Soi won Sunday’s Dublin Chase at Leopardstown, but Skelton reckons Nube Negra’s biggest threat will come from Shishkin and Energumene.

He said: “Nube Negra was second in the race last year and Chacun Pour Soi has proved to be a significantly better horse on his side of the Irish Sea, so perhaps his run in last year’s Champion Chase (third) isn’t true to what he can really do.

“The two from Ascot, we’ve never faced them before and on numbers they are obviously achieving very highly.

“We know it’s not going to be easy, but the best we can do is have them in the best shape we can and go give it a crack.”

Nube Negra was a close second in last season’s Champion Chase

Another of Skelton’s stable stars will complete his prep for the Festival at Warwick this weekend.

Third Time Lucki, a general 6-1 shot for the Arkle, will clash with his Henry VIII Novices’ Chase conqueror Edwardstone in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase on Saturday.

Skelton said: “I was happy with Third Time Lucki this morning after just giving him a little breeze and everything was good.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“The reason we’re going to Warwick is because the ground is hanging on. If there was nothing but rain forecast I wouldn’t have even entered him, but he’s in nice form and I think the track will suit him.

“Obviously Edwardstone is turning up which will be a harder task, but I like the idea of being there on good ground. Knowing what we know now, I think we’re entitled to think we’ve got a better chance of beating Edwardstone because of the ground.

“I think if we met him on Sandown ground we wouldn’t actually meet because I’d protect my horse from that, so we’re meeting on what should be nice ground and it gives us reasons for optimism.

“With the ground in our favour I think we can turn the tables.”


Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to SE. 18+. T&Cs apply.

Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare –
  • Gamble Aware –

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.


Formula 1

The Mercedes Contract Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, recently signed a lucrative two-year contract with Mercedes worth £100 million. However, Hamilton has hinted...


Brutal Bloodbath British bare-knuckle boxer Melanie Shah was left completely unrecognizable following a brutal bloodbath fight. Shah went head-to-head against Britain Hart in a...

Horse Racing

Nightmarish Spill Leaves Jockey in Critical Condition A jockey named Zack Ziegler is currently in a fight for his life after a horrifying horse...


Stunning in Leopard Print Elle Brooke, the influencer-turned-boxer, set pulses racing with her latest photoshoot where she posed in nothing but lingerie. The 25-year-old...


Breaking Records: Youngest Man in Blue to Achieve the Feat Indian opener Yashasvi Jaiswal has made history by becoming the nation's first-ever centurion at...


Rob MacIntyre: Ryder Cup Hero Robert MacIntyre, the hungover Ryder Cup hero, was seen catching a Jet2 flight home from Rome, drawing praise as...