My Drogo will bid to banish memories of his dramatic fencing bow when he returns to Cheltenham next month.
Trainer Dan Skelton has set his sights on the Jockey Club Cheltenham and SW Syndicate Novices’ Chase on December 11, after Mr Drogo exited two out in what proved an extraordinary match race at Prestbury Park on Friday.
My Drogo had just taken the lead at the penultimate fence, but slipped on landing and parted company with Harry Skelton – with Gin On Lime virtually sliding to a standstill at the same time and Rachael Blackmore somehow managing to stay aboard and go on to an incredible win.
Skelton felt his Grade One-winning hurdler was just unfortunate, and believes a Cheltenham return over the same two-and-a-half-mile distance is a logical move.
He told Racing TV: “I don’t think he actually lost anything in defeat. I think he jumped really well the rest of the way, learnt a lot on the way round – he was a bit brave at one ditch and a bit brave at a plain (fence), but ultimately he was good.
“He came hard on the bridle turning in and he’d have won. I wouldn’t say he’d enhanced his odds of being a Grade One victor in March by doing what he should have done, but he certainly didn’t underachieve I don’t think.
“He will definitely go back (to Cheltenham) in December. There’s the same race, two and a half miles and obviously the same start but different track.
“Why not go back there? I’ve no fears about the track for him, it’s one of those things that happens two out.”
Meanwhile, Skelton has been backed again for a first trainers’ championship title.
William Hill spokesperson Rupert Adams said: “There seem to be few weekends when Dan Skelton isn’t among the winners and he looks a real threat in the trainers’ championship this year.
“He was 8-1 to win the title for the first time before the November meeting at Cheltenham, but after three big winners we now make him the 7-2 second-favourite behind Paul Nicholls at 1-2.”
Reflecting on his weekend winners – Third Time Lucki, Nube Negra and West Cork – Skelton told his Ladbrokes blog: “Third Time Lucki did what we hoped he would. Harry got the race in the bag three out and was cautious over the last two.
“I think I can actually have him better and he will head to Sandown now. If he doesn’t go there, then he will go to Kempton.
“On Sunday it was just a magical forty-five minutes. It was a bit of relief that Nube Negra did that and won the Shloer Chase. He was second in the Champion Chase and we wanted to confirm that promise.
“The elation of landing the Greatwood Hurdle with West Cork was fantastic. It was as much fun as you could have on a racecourse. Everyone was there and we had worked hard to get him right after 600 odd days off and it was just brilliant.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the whole team. The owners, whether they had a winner or loser, embraced the whole rollercoaster that was the weekend and I just feel very lucky to be doing what I do.
“It’s weekends like that, where there are ups and downs, that make it so special. Bring on next weekend!”