Arkle hope Third Time Lucki stays unbeaten over fences

Dan Skelton was able to breathe a sigh of relief having watched Third Time Lucki maintain his unbeaten record over fences in the From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

Sent off the 2-5 favourite, Skelton had seen classy stablemate My Drogo start at a similarly prohibitive price on Friday – only for him to slide to a halt and part company with Harry Skelton at the second-last.

There were no such worries this time, although Third Time Lucki was not quite as exuberant as he had been when winning on his chasing debut last month.

“Harry said he felt fantastic and that he’s a horse with a lot of natural pace,” said Skelton, whose charge was left at 11-1 with Betfair for the Arkle Trophy in March and cut to 8-1 from 10-1 by Coral.

“During my apprenticeship with Paul (Nicholls), Ruby (Walsh) always used to say there’s a difference between speed and pace and in a race pace is so important because you can go your speed very comfortably, which is what he can do.

“Going down the hill Harry started getting him under control, and then from three out to two out also. After the last he pricked his ears and got lonely, it was harder work today visually and while it is trainer chat he was actually fitter for the first day than today.

“I did a lot with him for the first day because I didn’t want to have him too fresh, so I pressed him a bit. I trusted him between then and now and I think he jumped the last and just had a blow.”

As for future plans, Skelton may now have a change of heart.

“Originally the plan was to go to the Henry VIII after this, but whether that will happen now, I don’t know. I need to talk to Mike (Newbould, owner). I could wait for Kempton, which I know is a Grade Two and Sandown a Grade One but the ground will have a big bearing – he won’t run on soft or heavy,” said Skelton.

“We could even wait for Doncaster (Lightning Novices’ Chase) and then come back here. Appreciate It is top of the (Arkle) market and we’ve got to see what he does. We want to go to the Arkle and hopefully it all works out.

“I was set in my mind to go Sandown and Warwick (Kingmaker) after today, but having watched that I just like the idea of him super fresh. I can do loads with him at home and the best route might be Kempton and then here. Maybe.”

Regarding My Drogo Skelton said: “He’s fine, he trotted up before he left here last night and trotted up at home this morning. He’s 100 per cent.

“When he skidded all his legs skidded in the right direction, no legs went under him or anything,

“I spoke to (owner) Brian Acheson this morning and his horse Gin On Lime is fine, too.

“It was an unusual experience, but everyone is all right so we go again. I don’t think Drogo lost anything in defeat or disaster, whatever it was, so we just move on.”

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