Dan Skelton planning Contenders Hurdle return for Roksana

Clash with Buveur D’Air on the cards for Grade Two winner

  • Tuesday 22 January
  • News
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Dan Skelton is leaning towards letting Grade Two scorer Roksana take on dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air on her return to action in next month’s Contenders Hurdle at Sandown.

The Alcester handler has earmarked the two-mile Listed contest on February 2 as a starting point for the seven-year-old, who was last seen when second in a Grade One contest at Aintree last April.

Skelton is then targeting the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

He said: “You will see Roksana in the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown. I didn’t enter her at the weekend at Doncaster as they are watering ground up there, so she can’t be running on ground like that.

“She will go to Sandown as I’ve got to get a run into her. You saw how keen she was in the mares’ final last season and if I took her straight to Cheltenham, it would be like holding a lit firework and we would be in big trouble.

“It will be Sandown, then on to Cheltenham.

“Everything was fine with her in the autumn, then just one day she wasn’t quite right. We sent her off for bone scans and we found nothing.

“I think she just had a muscle injury. Once we found out she wasn’t quite right, if I couldn’t get her ready for the Long Walk, we weren’t going to push her.”

Skelton is favouring an outing in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival for Beakstown following his impressive success in a Grade Two at Warwick last time out.

He said: “He was good last time. We’ve spoken about it and me, Bryan (Drew) and Harry (Skelton) were not keen to go for the Albert Bartlett, so we won’t be doing that.

“If he gets an entry at Cheltenham, it will be in the Ballymore and obviously Aintree will be considered.

“Whatever we do will be for the right reasons for novice chasing next season and I just want to be cautious – we do want to get it right. If we went to Cheltenham, we would go straight there.

“If we decided for whatever reason we didn’t go, there is a race at Ascot we could go to then Aintree. I’m not saying we are more tempted, but we are looking at Cheltenham unless there is a great reason not to.”

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