Roksana returns to winning form with stylish Wetherby success

Roksana quickened up impressively to win the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby in fine fashion.

Dan and Harry Skelton have an impressive strike-rate at the West Yorkshire track and their well-backed 13-8 favourite further augmented their tally with a taking success.

Having been dropped out towards the rear, Roksana loomed up looking a huge threat at the third last and the only question was how much she had left in the locker.

Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar and Next Destination, having his first start for Paul Nicholls, both looked to be travelling well, but neither had an answer to the mare.

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Roksana put the race to bed in a matter of strides, scooting eight and a half lengths clear of Next Destination, with Kildisart in third and Lisnagar Oscar fourth.

Skelton said: “She’s magic. We were always going down the Mares’ Hurdle route last year as she’d obviously won it the year before. She ran well and we were looking forward to Aintree, but obviously Covid put a stop to that.

“We always knew three miles was going to come one day. We’re probably six months behind it happening for obvious reasons.

“I’m delighted with her today. She was getting the allowances and we’re under no illusions about how much the likes of Lisnagar Oscar and others are going to improve as the season progresses, but she did everything right.

“We’ll let the others scrap it out in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and we’ll perhaps aim for the Long Walk at Ascot. We might enter her in Ireland (Leopardstown) as well, just in case the restrictions lift for the Christmas meeting.

“We’ll see what the spring brings. The owners aren’t set on Cheltenham, so there’s every possibility she could miss Cheltenham and go straight to Aintree.

“It’s potentially her last season, but we’re under no illusions about how good a racemare she is and if we think there’s another good year in her, then she could come back.”

Roksana returns to the winner's enclosure
Roksana returns to the winner’s enclosure (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Nicholls said of Next Destination: “I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with that – it was an awesome run.

“He’s been off an awful long time. I couldn’t take him away anywhere to gallop because the ground has been too firm, so that’s probably the first time he’s worked on grass since the last time he ran.

“He travelled beautifully and jumped beautifully – he’ll be a right chaser.

“We’ve schooled him over fences and I think that (novice chasing) will be the plan now.”

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