County Hurdle hero Mohaayed may get his campaign under way this weekend, with the Dunraven Group Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las a possible option.
The six-year-old raced just four times last season, returning from a three-month absence to win the Cheltenham Festival handicap in fine style for Dan Skelton and conditional rider Bridget Andrews.
As well as Saturday’s feature, Mohaayed is also entered in the following day’s Matchbook VIP Hurdle at Kempton, but Skelton appears to be favouring Wales as he looks to get his useful hurdler rolling.
He said: “We could possibly see him at the weekend – it depends how the ground is. If it stays the way it was, he would go to Ffos Las, and Symphony Of Angels would wait for the following week.
“Obviously he has got to contend with a career-high mark. We had a go at Grade One competition last year, and he just fell short (when third) in the Christmas Hurdle. He is still only six.
“I know Harchibald went from the County Hurdle to Champion Hurdle standard, so it is possible to bridge that gap. I don’t want to take away the fact he won the County Hurdle – I hope what comes now is the next level, (and) if not he is a top-end handicapper.”
While Mohaayed could be a horse on the up, Skelton is planning to lower his expectations for Grade Two winner Ch’Tibello following a lacklustre last campaign.
Skelton said: “I’ve been disappointed with him since the start of the season. He had a hard year last year and bumped into all the good ones on soft ground. He showed in the Scottish Champion Hurdle he is not well handicapped.
“We had a go in Graded races and he is not there, so we need to lower our sights.”
Roksana was a Grade One-placed runner for Skelton last season, finishing second to Santini at Aintree, but the trainer is not planning to be too hard on her early in the current term.
He said: “She has definitely improved. There is a race at Kempton at the back end of November, and I should envisage she will improve for her first run – as she has done every season.
“We want her for races beyond that date. I just feel that possibly, going three miles, she might be a bit fresh.
“I would be a little guarded regarding her first run, but I remember how we trained her last year and how she improved in the spring – so we would be mindful of that.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to take on the boys. Santini had a couple more goes than she had, and that just showed up the run-in at Aintree. He had a few more goes at three miles, and who knows how much Newbury took out of her?
“To be honest with you, I was surprised at Aintree. You hoped she would run that well, but the reality was it was a pleasant surprise.”
Skelton also hopes he may have a Randox Health Grand National contender on his hands in Get On The Yager, winner of the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby last Christmas but then disappointing in both the Midlands and Scottish Nationals.
The trainer added: “He might end up being a National horse, but I’m not banging on the drums saying he definitely is.
“He was a nightmare to get fit last year, and we had a stumbling block at the start of the season, so we had to back off him for six weeks.
“He is just getting going and he will be ready around Christmas. We will make a plan from there.
“I can see him being a Midlands National horse again. He ran in it off top weight, and that gave him no chance.
“If he goes and wins a nice race then we would have to look at the National, but I will let him prove he is that type of horse before I say he is. He has been great already for us.”