2021 Cheltenham Festival tips – Harry Skelton’s top Festival winning chances
Harry Skelton Cheltenham Festival rides
One half of the hugely successful ‘Team Skelton’ leading rider Harry Skelton has a mouth-watering book of rides to look forward to at the Cheltenham Festival and we pick out five likely Harry Skelton Cheltenham Festival rides that should give top jockey a good spin and might even pick up a victory!
Top jockey Harry Skelton has seen it all before and has paid past visits to the Cheltenham Festival winners’ enclosure; he could well make a couple of returns to the victor’s arena over the course of this year’s Festival where he boasts a solid collection of rides and a few big chances of success from his intended mounts over the four days.
Along with trainer brother Dan and his now-wife Bridget Andrews, ‘Team Skelton’ has got ever stronger year on year and this campaign could see the team field their strongest line-up yet as they hunt for further Cheltenham Festival succcess.
We’ve picked out five of the best Harry Skelton Cheltenham Festival rides over the course of the meeting which could give the jockey a big spin around Prestbury Park and might yield another Festival winner for the top rider.
2021 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TIPS – HARRY SKELTON TOP FESTIVAL WINNING CHANCES
ALLMANKIND could notch up an early winner on the board for Team Skelton on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, but if he’s to win an Arkle he’s going to have to get the better of Shishkin and Energumene who have both looked top class thus far over fences.
That isn’t to say the Sea The Moon isn’t top class himself and he’s unbeaten himself over fences which includes victories in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and Kingmaker Chase latterly and he has previous Cheltenham experience to call upon having won here over hurdles last term before finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle.
His latest run saw him demolish the smart Sky Pirate by 14 lengths at Warwick which he did despite taking a couple of fences by the roots on the way round. He’ll certainly need to jump better than he did on that occasion while he might not get an easy time of things in front as he has had in his winning runs to date and he’ll likely find it much harder to dominate this top-class field.
Another negative is his age; he’s only a five-year old and no horse of that age group has won the Arkle since 2000 so he’ll need to be something special to take the day one contest although he’s certainly not without solid claims of making the frame at least.
Chacun Pour Soi aside the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Festival is wide open and Team Skelton will be represented in the race by NUBE NEGRA who has been hugely progressive over the larger obstacles, winning two of his four starts last term before finishing a close runner-up in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase behind Esprit Du Large.
Following his later defeat behind Rouge Vif in last season’s Kingmaker Chase he wasn’t seen out again until making his return in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas where he readily saw off fellow returnee Altior by almost four lengths.
He might have been a shade flattered in the end but he did travel and jump really well through that contest and he comes here on the back of a break; he’s proven he can run well fresh and still only a seven-year old the Dink gelding could have plenty more to come with time on his side.
His only semblance of a mistake at Kempton came over the last where he got in close, but he had the race in safe-keeping and in the end the mistake didn’t matter. There’s surely better to come from him and yet to finish out of the first two over fences it isn’t hard to see him playing a big part and he could emerge as the chief threat to Willie Mullins’ Chacun Pour Soi.
Marsh Novices’ Chase
Progressive as a hurdler last term, finishing sixth in the Ballymore Novices’ hurdle SHAN BLUE has been electric over fences this term, winning his first three starts impressively but showing a real aptitude for jumping the larger obstacles.
Foot-perfect in notching up a brace of wins at Wetherby he took the step up in class in his stride to readily hold off The Big Breakaway at Kempton to land the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase and he turned in another superb round of jumping when denied in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase behind Sporting John where he was outstayed up the hill in the heavy ground by the winner.
With the likelihood of less testing ground come day three of the Festival he’ll be more suited the conditions and his fast and accurate jumping will be a huge asset as he bids to down the Irish banker of the meeting in Envoi Allen and he could attract some Cheltenham Festival free bets from punters looking to take on the favourite.
There is still a possibility that ROKSANA might contest the Mares’ Hurdle on day one of the Festival, but the Dubai Destination mare would enter the Stayers’ Hurdle picture with strong claims and she’s perhaps shown her best form over this three miles trip.
The 2019 Mares’ Hurdle winner where she benefitted from the fall of Benie Des Dieux she could only finish fourth in that race twelve months ago; but since being stepped up to three miles this term she’s impressed in winning the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby and the Warfield Hurdle at Ascot either side of a very gallant third behind Paisley Park and Thyme Hill.
Heavy ground that day possibly caught her out late on, but she was only beaten two lengths at the line having held every chance over the last and conditions at Cheltenham in March are likely to be less testing.
She would again get weight from her principal rivals and on the form of her performance at Ascot in the Long Walk Hurdle she wouldn’t need to find much improvement to go close if taking in this Cheltenham Festival day three assignment as opposed to the easier Mares’ Hurdle.
Team Skelton have won three of the last five renewals of the County Hurdle, the first big handicap on day for of the Cheltenham Festival and in THIRD TIME LUCKI they could have another solid candidate to win the prize again.
The Arcadio gelding also holds an entry for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but this would be a more suitable assignment than taking in a Grade One and last season’s Champion Bumper fourth has won three of his five starts over hurdles this campaign which includes an impressive nine lengths’ victory over the useful Flic Ou Voyou.
His latest run at Musselburgh is perhaps best overlooked where his chance was ended by a mistake and sprawling on landing at the last which robbed him of momentum and he never recovered, giving up two places inside the last half-furlong.
He was under some pressure to close down the eventual winner though and it’s debatable whether he’d have won in any case with a cleaner jump. A switch to the handicap ranks rather than tackling a Grade One with the Arcadio gelding might be the way to go and a mark of 144 could see him get in fairly lightly in this competitive contest.
The Skeltons know what it takes to win this and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Third Time Lucki swerve the Festival opener to take in this race instead and the decision could pay dividends.