Trainer Dan Skelton insists Protektorat has had the perfect build-up for his re-match with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard… and claims Haydock’s job will be more suitable for the seven-year-old
- Protektorat takes on A Plus Tard on Saturday in the Betfair Chase in Haydock
- Trainer Dan Skelton says Protektorat has had the perfect build-up for the race
- Protektorat was the first British trained horse house in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
- The seven-year-old is 17-and-a-half heights to make up for rival A Plus Tard
- Protektorat is partially owned by United legend and racing fan Sir Alex Ferguson
Trainer Dan Skelton says Protektorat has had the perfect build-up for his re-match with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard at the Betfair Chase in Haydock on Saturday.
Part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, Protektorat was the first British-trained horse home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March when it finished third.
But the seven-year-old has 17-and-a-half lengths to make up for Henry De Bromhead-trained A Plus Tard, who is defending his Betfair Chase crown after winning by 22 lengths last season.
Trainer Dan Skelton (above) says Protektorat has had the perfect build-up for his re-match with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard
Skelton said, “Protektorat is prepared and should be. We know we have some catching up to do with A Plus Tard, but it’s a young horse and he hasn’t had many attempts on the three-mile ride.
“Hopefully the track is more suitable for him, although you can’t say Cheltenham doesn’t suit him. We must try. When they are ready, well and properly prepared, I will not dodge it. We will always do that, as long as we get the best structure.’
Skelton spoke after Nube Negra, ridden by brother Harry, easily won the Shloer Chase for the second year in a row. Interest in the two-mile race plummeted when Edwardstone, winner of the 2022 Arkle Challenge Trophy, Nube Negra’s main opponent, was scratched, meaning the winner started at an odds of 1-10.
Protektorat (above) was the first British trained horse house in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Queen Mother Champion Chase at the festival in March is back in Nube Negra’s crosshairs. He finished second in the race last year, but retired last season when the ground got heavy.
A horse that must keep its races apart, Nube Negra’s only possible race for the festival is the Desert Orchid Chase in Kempton on December 27.
The Shloer Chase trophy was presented by Jonny Bairstow, who would have celebrated alongside his England T20 World Cup winning cricket colleagues had he not broken his left leg and dislocated his ankle in a freak accident while golfing in September.
Dressed in a green tweed suit and protective boot, Bairstow had seen England’s victory on the track.
The seven-year-old is partly owned by Man United legend and racing fan Sir Alex Ferguson
He added: “It’s been an emotional rollercoaster over the past few months, but it’s fantastic to see the boys win the World Cup. They proved people wrong.’ One of the gigs from the three-day Cheltenham meeting in November came when I Like To Move It, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, took twelfth place to a five-and-a-half-length win in the Greatwood Hurdle.
In 2002, Rooster Booster, trained by Philip Hobbs, took a top weight of 11th 12 lb to victory at the Greatwood and then continued the season to land the Champion Hurdle.
I Like To Move It, who has a much lower handicap, has a bigger jump to make but will be back in Cheltenham next month for the International Hurdle. His jockey Sam Twiston-Davies said: ‘He has been an exciting horse from day one and we can now start dreaming.’