Now in his third full season with a trainer's licence Dan Skelton has quickly established himself as a name to follow and the experience of nine years with his former mentor Paul Nicholls has clearly equipped him for a place at the top table.
The Alcester handler notched 73 winners and over £714,000 in prized money last season and is well on the way to passing that mark with 39 wins already under the belt and nearly £305,000 in prize money with the season getting into full throttle.
Skelton has inherited the classy Al Ferof this term and with Willow's Saviour back in action and the very exciting novice chasing prospect Value At Risk at his disposal there looks plenty of heady days in front of him.
Dan looks likely to be well represented at this weekend's Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham and kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about some of his prospects he hopes will do well this term.
4 b g Martaline - Annee De La Femme
Winner of one of his 4 races over hurdles. Off the mark with a half length victory from Film Producer at Market Rasen (2m 1/2f) in October. Currently rated 118 over hurdles.
"He goes to Cheltenham at the end of the week for the novices handicaps hurdle at the Paddy Power meeting. I am happy with how he improved on last year at Market Rasen."
10 gr g Dom Alco - Maralta
Winner of the Grade 2 Amlin Chase for a second time when beating Somersby seven lengths at Ascot (2m 3f) last November and placed in the King George VI Chase for a second time when finishing third, beaten nine and a half lengths, to Silviniaco Conti at Kempton (3m) on Boxing Day. Winner of ten of his 23 starts and currently rated 165 over fences.
"He probably goes for the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon before he goes on to the King George all being well. I am delighted to have him, he's been a great horse and hopefully we can have some good days together."
4 b g Kayf Tara - Candy Creek
"He's a very nice very well bred bumper horse but he probably won't be seen out until the Spring."
5 br g Manduro - Behra
Scored by a neck from Lyvius in a valuable limited handicap hurdle at Ascot (2m 3 1/2f) in January off a mark of 134 when trained by Venetia Williams. Winner of three of his 17 starts. Currently rated 136.
"He goes for the fixed brush hurdle at Haydock next month and the ground and the trip should really suit him. Handicap-wise he doesn't look like he's too badly handicapped on his win at Ascot last year."
5 b g Beneficial - Fennor Rose
Winner of one of his 7 starts. Easy ten length victor at Warwick (2m 3f) in May. Only fourth when beaten at odds-on at Fontwell (2m 3f) last month. Currently rated 119 over hurdles.
"I was a little disappointed with him at Fontwell but we are not going to dwell on that. He also runs in the novice handicap hurdle at Cheltenham this weekend and the softer ground will help him."
7 b g Heron Island - American Chick
Winner of four of his 10 starts. Scored by six lengths from Irving in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February. Currently rated 155 over hurdles.
"He should be ready to run around the end of the month and he goes straight novice chasing. He will have some lofty Spring targets all being well."
6 b m Presenting - Homebird
Winner of three of her 8 starts. Successful over hurdles at Southwell (2m 4 1/2f) in March and Stratford (2m 2 1/2f) in April. Currently rated 129.
"She goes to Wincanton mid-November for a mares' novices chase. Should wouldn't want it overly soft."
4 b g King's Theatre - Bob's Flame
Winner of his only point-to-point in Ireland.
"He's a lovely horse who won his only Irish point-to-point. He would be running probably in early December probably in a novice hurdle and he won't be overraced this year."
4 ch g Golan - Times Have Changed
Easy winner of his only bumper at Newcastle (2m 1/2f) in January when trained by Tim FitzGerald.
"He is not far off making his debut and wants soft ground. He was very impressive when winning at Newcastle on his only bumper start and he jumps well. I think he's a chaser in the making, He's a very big four-year-old and he will win a couple of novice hurdles this season but really he is a novice chaser for next season."
5 ch g Midnight Legend - Silver Solace
Winner of his only bumper at Aintree in May.
"He runs in the listed bumper at Cheltenham on Sunday. He was very impressive when he won up at Aintree and I'm not totally convinced he's a bumper horse and he will go novice hurdling afterwards but given how he won there he deserves to take his chance."
COBRA DE MAI
3 b g Great Pretender - Miria Galandra
Winner of one of his two bumpers in France when trained by Guillaume Macaire. Unplaced on his hurdling debut at Warwick (2m) last week.
"I was little disappointed with him at Warwick last week but he was too keen and too fresh and basically had done too much going to three out. I would put a line through that performance and he's better than he showed then."
FOU ET SAGE
4 b g Sageburg - Folie Lointaine
Winner of two of his 12 starts. Landed a listed event at Auteuil last November. Unplaced on debut for new connections at Cheltenham (2m 1/2f) in October. Currently rated 143 over hurdles.
"He is another who we know is better than he showed. I was disappointed with Cheltenham the other day he travelled like a demon until two out and it was like someone had turned the lights off. We are going to go to Haydock with him next a flatter track with softer ground and see how it happens for him."
5 b g Beat Hollow - Veenwoulden
Winner of four of his 10 starts. Highly creditable third, beaten four and a half lengths, to Court Minstrel in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) in October off a mark of 136. Currently rated 139.
"He goes for the Ladbroke and didn't quite stay in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow last time. He's good when he's fresh and the hustle and the bustle of the Ladbroke should suit him. I just wouldn't want it going heavy at Ascot."
LONG HOUSE HALL
7 b g Saddlers' Hall - Brackenvale
Won his first three starts for Skelton, scoring by eight lengths from Factor Fifty at Market Rasen (2m 2 1/2f) and 16 lengths from Alternatif at Cheltenham (2m 4 1/2f) both in April. Winner of a novices' chase at Bangor in May and unseated rider when favourite for a similar event at Cheltenham (2m 4f) in October.
"Obviously we have to get him back on track after falling loose at Cheltenham but he has jumped well since and I was nearly going to go Wincanton last weekend but the ground was a bit too soft. I don't know where I am going to go at the moment but he will be fine."
4 br g Westerner - Southern Skies
Runner-up in his only point-to-point in Ireland.
"We won't rush him and he wants plenty of time. I don't know when we will see him out and he's going to be a better five and six-year-old but we like him a lot."
6 b g Zagreb - Muckle Flugga
Winner of three of his 5 starts. Successful in two bumpers at Stratford (2m 1/2f) in March and made a winning start over hurdles at Cheltenham (2m 1/2f) in October when beating Drumlee Street two and a quarter lengths.
"He goes to Cheltenham at the weekend for the Sharp Novices' having won at the October meeting. He wouldn't want it properly soft you would run him on good to soft. I think when he gets his conditions he could be up there graded glass."
PAIN AU CHOCOLAT
4 b g Enrique - Clair Chene
Winner of two of his 9 starts. Finished third, beaten 16 lengths, to Fox Norton on his latest start at Market Rasen (2m 1f) in October.
"I was a little bit disappointed with his run at Market Rasen but I know he can do better than that. I am not going to rush him now and he won't be seen out until before Christmas in a novices' chase."
6 b g Galileo - Lyrical
Winner of five of his 18 starts. Landed prestigious success in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy at Chepstow (2m 3 1/2f) in October of last year when beating Aubusson three quarters of a length off a mark of 127. Currently rated 139 over hurdles.
"He needs a bit of time and he basically had a bit of trouble over the Summer. He probably won't be seen out until the Welsh Champion Hurdle."
4 b g King's Theatre - Tara Tara
Winner of one of his two point-to-points in Ireland.
"He's a very nice point winner and like Minella Experience he won't be overraced this year. He should be out in about three weeks."
7 b m King's Theatre - Brownlow Castle
Winner of four of her 11 starts. Finished runner-up, beaten two lengths, to The New One at Kempton (2m) last month. Currently rated 138 over hurdles.
"She won a listed mare hurdle for us last season and she was entered up over fences at Sandown on Sunday but the ground was too testing. We will wait for some better ground now but she should make her mark over fences."
5 b g Flemensfirth - Friendly Craic
Winner of two of his four starts. Landed a Grade 2 novices' hurdle at Warwick (2m 5f) in January. Finished third, beaten four and a half lengths, to Sametegal on his chasing debut at Huntingdon (2m 4f) this month.
"I was a little bit disappointed with him the other day at Huntingdon but that was basically my own fault. I thought he was fit and ready but he just took a blow turning in. I think there is a good deal of improvement to come and he will go to the Hennessy meeting."
7 b g Khalkevi - Friandise II
Winner of five of his 25 starts. Beaten a neck by Village Vic on his reappearance in the Bobby Renton Chase at Wetherby (2m 3 1/2f) in October and unseated rider in a valuble handicap at Aintree (2m 4f) last Saturday. Currently rated 128 over fences.
"He unseated his rider in a £40,000 handicap at Aintree on Saturday but I feel there is a good race in him. He was only just beat at Wetherby previously and he can bounce back from Saturday's mishap."
VALUE AT RISK
6 b g Kayf Tara - Miss Orchestra
Winner of three of his 8 starts. Finished fifth, beaten 16 lengths, to Martello Tower in the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham (3m) in March. Currently rated 143 over hurdles.
"He goes straight to the Hennessy Meeting for a three miles novices' chase. He's a horse we like very very much and he's done plenty of jumping at home. Hopefully, he can go on from there."
6 b g Denham Red - Liesse De Marbeuf
Winner of three of his six starts. Successful in both outings in May for Skelton scoring by 12 lengths from Handazan at Warwick (2m 3f) and by six lengths from Sea Lord at Aintree (2m 4f).
"I have entered him in the fixed-brush hurdle at Haydock but we will have to see if he's ready. He might end up going to Sandown on Tingle Creek day for a two mile six furlong handicap hurdle."
WALKING IN THE AIR
5 b g Flemensfirth - Rossavon
Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland last season and a bumper at Warwick. Unplaced in a maiden hurdle at Exeter (2m 5 1/2f) in November.
"The ground was a bit softer than we thought the other day and we paid the penalty trying to go with an experienced horse. We know he is a decent horse and he didn't deserve his position at Exeter."
5 b g Robin Des Champs - What A Mewsment
Winner of a bumper at Wetherby in March and runner-up, beaten only a length and a quarter, to Yanworth on his hurdling debut at Exeter (2m 1f) this month.
"I think you might look back on his race at Exeter and think it was a very good race. I think Yanworth could be exceptional so he lost little caste in defeat and he has a bright future over hurdles."
WHAT A WARRIOR
8 b g Westerner - Be Right
Winner of seven of his 32 starts. Creditable effort in the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot (2m 7 1/2f) at the end of October when fourth, beaten seven lengths, to Pendra off a mark of 140. Currently rated 139.
"He ran well the other day at Ascot and just got headed going to the last. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I don't know what I will do with him next as the handicapper seems to have him just where he wants."
8 ch g Septieme Ciel - Willow Gale
Completed a hat trick when winning the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot in December 2013 and having his first run since when beating Aso a neck in a novices' chase at Warwick (2m) last week.
"It was great to see him back last week and he jumped really well apart from tapping a few on the way round but that didn't really stop him. He's a very good horse and goes for the Henry VIII Novices' Chase next."
YES I DID
5 b m Craigsteel - Younevertoldme
Winner of a point-to-point in Ireland and placed in three bumpers.
"I can't believe I haven't won a bumper with her but we will put that to be now and go hurdling with her. I would like to be thinking she will be running before too long."
4 b g Azamour - Zariziyna
Winner of juvenile hurdle at Newbury and Wincanton last season and sixth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Third, beaten seven and a quarter lengths to Irving in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday. Currently rated 138 over hurdles.
"He ran a solid race in the Elite Hurdle on Saturday and hopefully will continue to progress as the season goes on. He was meeting some very experienced rivals and we were pleased with his effort."
AL FEROF - could be invigorated by a change of scenery and first stop the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on December 6.
BARADARI - progressive handicapper who still looks capable of winning off his current mark.
BLUE HERON - possesses a touch of class that should stand him in good stead in a lucrative novice chasing season.
MISTER MIYAGI - tough individual who looks sure to win plenty more races over hurdles.
VALUE AT RISK - did well over hurdles but could well prove an even more exciting prospect novice chasing.
WELSH SHADOW - bumped into a potential top notcher at Exeter and can win plenty of novice events this term.