Dan Skelton believes Allmankind needs to find only a small amount of improvement to have a big chance of maintaining his unbeaten record over jumps in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Having made his first start at Grade One level a winning one at Chepstow over Christmas, the Bill and Tim Gredley-owned four-year-old will bid to follow up by making it four wins from as many starts in next month’s two-mile juvenile championship.
With Skelton reporting Allmankind to be in good order for his toughest test to date, he feels further progress from his Chepstow success would see him go close to victory.
He said: “I’m delighted with how Allmankind looks – and I’m glad I didn’t run him at the trials meeting at Cheltenham, because I think that might have blunted that last couple of per cent of freshness and aggression in him.
“He loves to run hard, and he is going to run hard, so you need him at his best to be able to do that.
“I think his Chepstow run, on form at that point in the season, would be good enough to be in the three at least – so if he has found a little bit more, perfect.”
Assessing the potential opposition, Skelton expects the Gary Moore-trained Goshen and impressive Adonis winner Solo, trained by his former boss Paul Nicholls, to be Allmankind’s chief dangers.
He said: “It is a different thing when we go to the Triumph, because we are going to be taking on horses we haven’t seen before.
“I think Goshen is a big danger, and Solo could be a potential superstar, so we have massive respect for him. It looks like the three English horses are the best ones going into the race, because the Irish have all been beating each other.
“As concerned as I am about a few of them, they would say the same about us.”
Although Skelton is excited about the prospects of Allmankind, who is the general 4-1 third-favourite for the Triumph, he is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “Allmankind could come out and be 10lb better than he was in December – or he might only be a pound better – but you don’t know with those juveniles, because they are improving all the time.
“I’m certainly not going there thinking you can put a tick against his name as a winner, because it is going to be hard.”
Skelton hopes the ground dries up enough to allow Maire Banrigh to extend her unbeaten record over fences to five on her first start at Grade One level when reverting back to two miles in the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase.
He said: “Although she has an entry in the Marsh, the plan is to still go to the Arkle, although I wouldn’t mind it drying out a bit.
“Although I think she is a two-and-a-half-miler on decent ground, we got away with that trip on (soft) ground at Huntingdon, and it was a big day for her.”
Skelton is confident Protektorat can make his presence felt off a mark of 144 on his handicap debut in the Coral Cup.
He said: “Protektorat is clear favourite with most firms for the Coral Cup, and I think he has a big chance. I’m very happy with him.
“I ran him on trials day to see if he had improved 10lb to be a Ballymore horse – but he is 144, which is a Coral Cup horse, and he will get a nice weight.
“This wasn’t the original plan. But after he got the race back (following an appeal) on New Year’s Day, this is where we thought we would go.”