Relkeel date on radar for Ch'tibello

Skelton hurdler has options at Cheltenham and Haydock.

  • Monday 16 December
  • News
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Dan Skelton may step Ch’tibello back up in trip for a return to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day in the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle.

The extended two-and-a-half-mile contest is one of two Grade Two races – along with the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on January 18 – which have been earmarked as potential targets for this year’s County Hurdle winner.

After signing of last season by finishing third in the Aintree Hurdle, the eight-year-old filled the same position on his return in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Skelton said: “It was a very good run by Ch’tibello on Saturday, and there are no gripes with it. The race didn’t take that much out of him, because we had him really fit going into it and they went no pace, so he didn’t have a gruelling race.

“He will be entered in the Relkeel on New Year’s Day, and he will also have an entry in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock.

“He will go to either one of them, then to either the Kingwell at Wincanton afterwards or the National Spirit at Fontwell.”

Although Skelton has no excuses for Ch’tibello’s defeat on his comeback, he feels that he could have finished even closer had certain things gone his way.

He added: “There was a bit of an unsatisfactory pace to the race – but that probably didn’t suit anybody all that well, because you could see how many horses were inconvenienced by it.

“We needed a better jump at the last, and that cost us a bit of momentum and getting the rail. I’m not saying he would have beaten the winner, but it would have been close.

“The fact is he carried a penalty, and if he hadn’t have carried that he would have beaten them on official figures.”

Former RSA winner Don Poli gained his first success in almost four years on Sunday at Alnwick, following his switch for a pointing campaign from Skelton – on his advice – to Nick Pearce.

Skelton said: “He came to us in March, and I said to Darren (Yates, owner) he has not won for a long time – so why not give him some easy races in point-to-point races, because he’s eligible for them.

“Everybody was delighted to see Don Poli up there, and I’m told people were asking for selfies with him. I’m delighted to see Darren get a one next to his name and enjoy it.

“You have got to remember he has danced every dance for the last four years, and been in some hard races, so to have a race that was not as hard for him was ideal.

A return to the Cheltenham Festival for the Foxhunter Chase could be on the cards for Don Poli if all goes well between now and March.

Skelton added: “There is a long way to the Foxhunter, but we decided when we started back with him that was possibly the best route to look at.

“The main thing was to win a point-to-point, then think about the next step, because he still needs to do a bit more.

“It is great to see horses that have given fans pleasure at the top of the game well received at this level.”

Relkeel date on radar for Ch'tibello
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