Skelton eyes Huntingdon next with Shan Blue

Shan Blue is set to put his unbeaten record over fences on the line on Peterborough Chase day at Huntingdon next month.

Dan Skelton’s high-class hurdler has made a smooth transition to the larger obstacles by registering back-to-back wins at Wetherby – scoring by 14 lengths last month and 16 lengths last weekend.

Connections are hoping Shan Blue can complete his hat-trick in the Fitzdares Novices’ Chase at Huntingdon on December 6, before stepping up to Grade One level for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

“We thought it was quite a nice performance the other day, giving 7lb to those better horses,” said Skelton.

“I’m delighted how he has transferred to chasing seamlessly. Hopefully he will be a force this side of the new year and next.

“I think I will go to Huntingdon on December 6 for a novice chase, and then go for the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase. I want to keep him out of those Graded races at Newbury.

“He is favourite for the Kauto Star – there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before then and a lot of good horses to run, but that is where I’m looking at the moment.”

Trainer Dan Skelton has his team in fine form this season
Trainer Dan Skelton has his team in fine form this season (David Davies/PA)

Another Wetherby winner for whom Skelton holds high hopes is Third Time Lucki.

Best of the British when fourth in last season’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, the five-year-old made a winning hurdling debut at Uttoxeter before following up in West Yorkshire.

“I’m not sure where to go with him yet,” he said.

“The handicapper has given him a mark (129), so that opens things up.

“I’ve got to talk to Mike and Eileen Newbould (owners). He was a very good bumper horse, who is now two from two over hurdles, and he has shown that he enjoys hurdling by getting his career over them off to the perfect start.”

Protektorat, who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, made a smart start to his chasing career at Carlisle recently and is set for an imminent trip to the home of National Hunt racing.

“He goes to Cheltenham next week,” Skelton added.

“We will enter him over two miles, but the preference would be to go for the two-and-a-half-mile novice chase.

“He jumped a bit left at Carlisle, but we’ve had him checked out at home and there was nothing to be seen – I don’t think he was jumping left for any reason that day.

“I’m happy with him, and he looks a better chaser than hurdler, as we expected.”

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