Blaklion roars home for Skelton team

Trainer Dan Skelton was thrilled to see Blaklion continue his resurgence with a bloodless victory in the Last Fling Handicap Chase at Haydock.

Bought for six figures by owner Darren Yates in 2019, results have been largely disappointing since, although he did manage to finish sixth in the Grand National last spring.

Blaklion registered his first success since winning the Becher Chase over the National fences four years ago when making most of the running in a veterans’ chase at Haydock at the start of the month.

And while he will officially turn 13 on Saturday, Skelton’s charge proved the fire still burns bright with an even more dominant front-running display on his return to Merseyside.

Ridden by the trainer’s brother Harry, Blaklion jumped impeccably throughout and already had his rivals in serious trouble before the home turn.

While the remainder were struggling to put one foot in front of the other in demanding conditions, the leader continued on his merry way and a huge leap at the final fence sealed his 28-length success.

Dan Skelton said: “He’s a credit to himself that he’s kept his enthusiasm as long as has and he’s in fantastic nick.

“I wouldn’t say he’s better than ever as I didn’t have him as a younger horse, but he’s the best I’ve ever had him. He’s remarkable and a pleasure to have about the place.

“I think the last win probably just topped up his enthusiasm and he probably thought it was all possible again. It never looked in doubt today – he was magic.”

Dan Skelton at Uttoxeter
Dan Skelton at Uttoxeter (Mike Egerton/PA)

The trainer is now eyeing another bid for National glory, adding: “We’ll give him an entry and see what the handicapper has to say and go from there.

“We’ll see what the handicapper does next Tuesday to give us an idea of what our potential fate might be for the Grand National.

“He’s good round those fences and we’ve got to take it seriously.”

The Jennie Candlish-trained Mint Condition stayed on best to secure top honours in the Campbell Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Ashtown Lad was in a clear lead jumping the final fence for the Skelton brothers, but was mowed down late by 7-2 chance Mint Condition and Henry Brooke. Bushypark was 85 lengths further behind in third.

Jungle Jack maintained his unbeaten record in the EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.

A point-to-point winner in Ireland for Colin Bowe last year, the son of Doyen made a successful debut for Donald McCain and Brian Hughes at Sedgefield in early December.

Conceding weight to all but one of his opponents, Jungle Jack dug deep to seal a half-length verdict over another point-to-point scorer in Captain Broomfield.

McCain said: “He’s still quite babyish and still doing a good bit wrong, but he’s a nice horse.

Donald McCain is enjoying an excellent season
Donald McCain is enjoying an excellent season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I think it’s nearly better than them being impressive all the time. He’s doing a lot wrong and still getting the job done. Hopefully he’s got a nice future ahead of him.

“He’s going to jump a fence and he’s going to take time, so we’re in no hurry this season.”

The formidable McCain-Hughes combination doubled up with Forpaddytheplumber (100-30) in the concluding Raglan Open National Hunt Flat Race.

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