Skelton relaxed on Allmankind preparation for Cheltenham

Dan Skelton would not be worried about the timescale before Cheltenham for Allmankind should the Agetur UK Kingmaker Chase have to be rescheduled.

The current cold snap could cause problems for Saturday’s meeting at Warwick, but Skelton feels there is still enough of a gap before the Sporting Life Arkle Trophy at the Festival on March 16.

“Even if you looked a week down the line you’ve still then got three and a half weeks before the Festival,” the Alcester trainer told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“I’m not worried about that, and Allmankind is not the type of horse who you’d be complaining about ground or track.

“He is just a simple horse. He just loves to run. Any opportunity you give him to run, he grasps it with both hands and gets on with it and loves it.”

The Arkle is one of the most eagerly-awaited races of the Festival, with Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin and the Willie Mullins-trained Energumene in the line-up.

“At Cheltenham, things can happen. It’s a horse race at the end of the day. They are three very talented, very genuine horses. We always knew Shishkin was going to be a shorter price than us going into the Festival,” said Skelton.

“He won the Supreme and as long as he can jump fences economically he is going to be the favourite or near favourite based on last year’s performances.

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Energumene promises to be threat to all in the Arkle at Cheltenham
Energumene promises to be threat to all in the Arkle at Cheltenham (Niall Carson/PA)

“Energumene is obviously a much better chaser than he was a hurdler. He’s an attacking chasing type and has looked very good. He has looked unbeatable on what he has done so far, but Cheltenham is a different track and things can happen.”

One of Skelton’s main hopes at the Festival is Nube Negra in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The seven-year-old leapt into the picture when comfortably accounting for Altior at Kempton in December.

“Nothing frightens me with the way the race is going to be run with Nube Negra, because I’ve got a confident feeling we’re the fastest horse in the race,” said Skelton.

“He travels so well and however fast they go, I think our horse will be in his comfort zone.

“I feel if we get a good round of jumping to the back of three out we’ve probably got as much in the tank as we possibly can to go up the hill. And I think it’s game on then. We’re going to ride Nube Negra for speed.”

Nube Negra was too good for Altior at Kempton
Nube Negra was too good for Altior at Kempton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Skelton has no qualms about facing the short-priced favourite Chacun Pour Soi, from the Mullins stable.

“I’m not frightened of taking Chacun Pour Soi on with Nube Negra because I know we will be in our comfort zone,” he said.

“I have no concerns about Cheltenham as he went there as a juvenile twice.

“We’ve got to take lots of positives out of Kempton. We know Chacun is going to be hard to beat, we know Politologue is going to put up a struggle and we know Altior is not done with.

“I go there thinking we have a right chance because this horse will not be under pressure at any point in the race.”

Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi were among nine winners for Mullins at the two-day Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Skelton believes the lack of strong opposition gives the Closutton trainer’s Cheltenham contingent an easier path to the Festival.

Chacun Pour Soi looms large for Willie Mullins at Cheltenham
Chacun Pour Soi looms large for Willie Mullins at Cheltenham (Niall Carson/PA)

“It is frustrating watching it. The lack of resistance means you are getting prep races in Grade Ones that aren’t taking anything out of his horses,” he said.

“That is the thing that makes him (Mullins) difficult to beat at Cheltenham, that his prep is easier than everybody else because his horses don’t have to go into the red in their prep races.

“Who is taking the easier route to the biggest day? This is where I think the magnification of Cheltenham is a potential downfall because people know they are going to get a hard race there. They are avoiding hard races en route because they want to go there with their biggest chance.

“That is why I think some races outside of Cheltenham Festival aren’t as supported as they should be because they (trainers and connections) know they are going to get a hard race. If they have a hard race, it’s going to be harder to get over.

“When Willie has a horse in a race he’s basically getting a freebie around the track in Ireland.

“I actually think preparation makes champions. The less you take out of the tank, the more is in there when you need it.”

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