Skelton duo in action at Newbury’s Jump finale tomorrow
Dan Skelton is expecting a bold showing from Rene’s Girl in the £40,000 Listed EBF & TBA Mares’ National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle Finale (3.40pm), which headlines the final raceday of the 2015/16 Jump season at Newbury tomorrow, Saturday, April 2.
Run over an extended two and a half miles, the limited handicap was won by subsequent Grade One OLBG Mares’ Hurdle runner-up Polly Peachum in 2013.
Rene’s Girl (Ian Popham, 11st) created a good impression in winning a pair of mares’ novices’ hurdles at Warwick and Ludlow earlier in the campaign and returned from a near three-month break to finish second in a two mile, one furlong novices’ hurdle at Exeter on March 8.
Skelton said: “I think Rene’s Girl will go well. We have kept her with this race in mind.
“I wanted to get a little run into her beforehand and she got beat under a double penalty in bad ground at Exeter, which wasn’t a bad run.
“This is a very competitive race, but she should run well. She is off a nice mark, will stay the trip well and the ground is fine.”
Her 12 opponents include Briery Queen (Noel Williams/Barry Geraghty), a dual winner at Doncaster this season, Surtee Du Berlais (Oliver Sherwood/Leighton Aspell) and Avispa (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson), who won a Listed bumper at Aintree in April, 2014.
Skelton is also represented by bottom-weight Cobra De Mai (Ian Popham, 10st 10lb) in the £40,000 Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.15pm, 10 runners) over just short of two miles and three furlongs.
A good ground bumper winner in France for Guillaume Macaire, the four-year-old got off the mark at the third attempt for current connections in a juvenile hurdle at Wetherby on February 12. He was last seen out when fourth to Royal Vacation in a two-mile handicap hurdle at Taunton on February 23.
Skelton added: “Cobra De Mai disappointed badly in a juvenile hurdle at Newbury earlier in the season.
“He won a small race up at Wetherby and, although this is much tougher, I have always had this or Ascot in mind for him.
“I think conditions tomorrow will suit him better but it is the same for a lot of them.”
Several of tomorrow’s runners contested the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, with Duke Street (Dr Richard Newland/Aidan Coleman) fairing best in ninth.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls took the spoils in 2014 and relies on lightly-raced French recruit Clic Work (Sam Twiston-Davies), while Philip Hobbs saddles Jaboltski (Richard Johnson), who was fourth in the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow last time out.
The seven-race card gets underway at 2.00pm and finishes at 5.25pm.
Newbury also races today, with a seven-race card running from 1.50pm to 5.20pm. The going is currently Good to Soft, Soft in places.