Beakstown ready for Ballymore big time

Skelton’s top novice among 15-strong Festival team

  • Monday 18 February
  • News
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Dan Skelton believes Beakstown is ready to take on the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle big guns next month.

The Alcester trainer has confirmed the six-year-old will head to Cheltenham, rather than waiting for Aintree, following his Grade Two win at Warwick last time out.

Beakstown is a general 16-1 shot for two-mile five-furlong prize, but Skelton insists he would not swap his big-race hope for any of the other contenders at the head of the market.

Skelton said: “Beakstown is definitely going for the Ballymore, and that is the main thing. I’ve been very happy with him since Warwick.

“Whatever he was going to do (next) – whether that was Cheltenham or Aintree – was that he was going to go straight there from Warwick.

“You have Champ and Battleoverdoyen at the head of the market – and it is easier (for people) to concentrate on them, because they have been doing it in more high profile races. But I’ve got no negatives.

“The first time we saw what he was half capable was at Warwick. He won’t start favourite – but I wouldn’t want to swap him, and I’m just really looking forward to it.”

Skelton expects to see Roksana take a significant step forward from her seasonal return in a Listed hurdle at Sandown earlier this month when returning to the top table at the Festival in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

He added: “I was really happy with that. I don’t read too much into ratings, but she ran to within single figures of her best at Sandown.

“If she can do that, needing the run and it being over two miles, it gives considerable cause for positivity – because she is going to step up in trip to two and a half miles, which is perfect.

“She handled the undulations at Sandown, and I don’t think that would be an issue because she is an uncomplicated mare.”

With a team of around 15 horses to send to the Festival, Skelton has put forward two other names he expects to run well outside of those in the graded races.

He said: “I thought Spiritofthegames ran well on trials day at the track – in fact too well, because he is now 147, which rules him out the Close Brothers. But he can run in the Plate.

“The Storyteller won it last year off the same mark as a novice. So I think he has got a live chance – as has Knight in Dubai in the Coral Cup.”

Beakstown ready for Ballymore big time

Cheltenham 13:30, 13 March 2019

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