Dan Skelton: ”It’s going to be hard taking on Shishkin but that doesn’t worry us”
Betfair Super Saturday takes place at Newbury Racecourse tomorrow and will be the inaugural Premier Raceday to be staged at the Berkshire track with a total prize pot of £411,000 on offer across the card.
Trainer Dan Skelton’s Fleur De Lys Chase runner up, Protektorat, goes to post in the £85,000 Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase, taking on the Nicky Henderson-trained multiple Grade 1 winning Shishkin.
Dan Skelton said: “Protektorat has always been going to the Denman Chase ever since the Fleur De Lys. He was second in that to L’Homme Presse giving him 4lbs which I think was a very good run on the day and I think will actually prove over time to perhaps be better again.
“He’s in great form. He’s had a slightly different year this year. We’ve raced him a bit more regularly, a good run under a big number at Cheltenham. Obviously an underperformance in the Betfair Chase (Haydock) when we expected a lot more but that was just one of those days. I knew after the first jump it wasn’t on.
“We’re going there to the Denman Chase in great form. He’s got recent form in the book, so I’m happy with that. It’s going to be hard taking on Shishkin but that doesn’t worry us. You can’t pick your oppositions, you’ve just got to beat them.”
Skelton will have three representatives in the Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle worth £155,000, including Faivoir, Knickerbockerglory and L’Eau Du Sud, the choice mount of Harry Skelton, who pulled up behind Iberico Lord in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, his first run since a wind op.
On L’Eau Du Sud, Skelton said: “Strange bit of form there, he actually had ulcers afterwards so we treated him for those. We had intentions to run before now but there’s been abandonments so we’ve ended up in this race just because it’s the one that’s arrived. I think he’s got a great chance. He’s in great form and his work is very good.
“Of course that most recent bit of form is concerning, but we have a medical reason why he underperformed that day. The psychological impacts of that, we have to take on trust with the horse but we’ve been very, very happy with him at home. I wouldn’t be running him if not and I think if you look at his form from last year, he was placed in a lot of very good hurdles and hopefully he’s got a big day in him.
Skelton reported Faivoir to be in great form: “Look, he does what he wants. I’m not the decider of how he runs. He obviously won the County Handicap Hurdle, had a big prize last year, which sort of illustrates he’s in charge of his own world, but he’s got a new rider this time, Heidi; she works for us.
“She’s going to ride him, she’s had some winners, albeit in the amateur ranks and Hunter Chases, so it’s a big first day for her into this type of race. But Faivoir knows what he’s doing, he’ll look after her. He’s the type of horse that will love that type of inexperienced rider. He likes to sort of be in control so let’s hope that they can get on well.”
On Knickerbockerglory who has also been declared, Skelton said: “Knickerbockerglory will love the rain. He wants more rain, the better. He was second in last year’s Imperial Cup and he won at Ascot, the start of the year, a good race. The more rain the better, that’s the simplicity of it. I wouldn’t say he’s got a stone in hand but when the rain comes, he’s favorably handicapped because he handles it a lot better than others.”
On Skelton’s well fancied Betfair Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle contender, G A Henty, who finished second on his first run for the yard a month ago, Skelton said: “He’s only had one run [for us] but we were very happy with that. This race sort of fits in his schedule quite nicely. It’s highly competitive, but you’d expect that. I will just take a good look at the ground but I think he’s OK on it.
“It’s also a qualifier for the Challenger Series final as well which is something we’re looking at down the line with him. But I think in this race, he’s a player. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s guaranteed to start favorite and the most likely winner of all because he’s not achieved quite as much as some of the others in the race. But he is young, unexposed and obviously has a chance.”
Skelton also runs Jack Black in the 2m½f Betfair Racing Podcasts Novice’s Hurdle, Hitching Jacking in the 2m7½f Best Odds On The Betfair Exchange Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and Royal Infantry in the 2m½f Betfair Exchange Beacons Bumper.
The 2024 Betfair Super Saturday meeting takes place at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday 10th February. Tickets are priced from £33 and are available on Newbury Racecourse’s website until 11:59pm on Friday, while U18s go free.
Two Betfair Super Saturday legends – Altior and Native River – will parade ahead of the Betfair Denman Chase (between the 2nd and 3rd race).
The only horse to win the Betfair Exchange Game Sprit Chase on three occasions in 2017, 2018, 2020, Altior will parade in front of his home crowd at the track at which he became synonymous. Having nearly lost his life to colic early last year, it will be a treat for racegoers to see him fit and healthy once again. Native River, the most successful horse in the history of the Betfair Denman Chase – winning the race in 2017, 2018 and 2020 – as well as the now Coral Gold Cup in 2016, will also return.
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Tickets for Saturday’s Betfair Super Saturday are available at the Standard rate after Super Early Bird, Early Bird and Advance tickets sold out.
Tickets are available to purchase online below until 11:59pm on Friday 9 February, and on the gate from 11am the day of racing.