Warwickshire’s Dan Skelton is one of the country’s brightest young National Hunt trainers and ambassador of Warwick Racecourse.
In his latest Observer column, he looks ahead to Warwick’s next fixture this Saturday (February 13) and has half an eye on Cheltenham Festival in March.
“The ground has improved a little bit for us over the last few weeks, but not a lot. We didn’t have as many runners as we’d have liked in January, and we won’t be going mad this month either.
“We’re looking forward to the ground drying up – whether that will be at the end of February, or the beginning of March, we obviously don’t know yet.
“The team is extremely happy with what we’ve been running. The horses look well and we’ve had some good winners as we move closer to Cheltenham Festival.
“Its’afreebee was very good to win the Supreme Trial Novice Hurdle at Haydock, and Pain Au Chocolat was also a stand out win last week up at Newcastle. I’ll probably be taking him to the Festival or Aintree.
“We’re looking forward to the Gentlemen’s and Kingmaker Chase Day at Warwick on Saturday (February 13). We’ll be running Willow’s Saviour and will probably be taking a couple of other horses along too.
“Then there’s the Budbrooke Chase Day at Warwick on Friday, February 26 and we’ll hopefully be supporting that day with as many horse as we can. We’re then into March, which is a month which always sees us double our runners.
“We’re also looking forward to being part of a Festival preview lunch at the Warwickshire Air Ambulance Raceday at Warwick on March 13. I’m part of panel previewing the Festival, and the day is in aid of a very good charity, so we’ll be doing our best for them.
“Every trainer will tell you, we’re always looking towards Cheltenham. In many ways we’re working towards Festival week all through the year, but we’ll be ramping up the preparation in the weeks ahead.
“We’ve got a few horses which aren’t favourites, but they’re close up there. The likes of Three Musketeers, Superb Story, Sir Mangan, and Al Ferof obviously. Although they are not favourites they’re all good horses and hopefully they’ll be able to bring it home.
“Overall, we’re really happy with how we’ve gone so far this year. We’ve bettered where we were at this time last year in terms of prize money and hopefully we’ll better it in winners too.”