Third Time Lucki steps up for Grade One challenge at Sandown

Third Time Lucki attempts to stretch his unbeaten start over fences to three when he steps up to Grade One company in the Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

Dan Skelton has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the six-year-old, but after finishing fourth in Ferny Hollow’s Champion Bumper he never reached the heights expected of him over hurdles.

He has blossomed over fences, however, putting up a startling display first time out at Cheltenham and following up back there last month.

“I always thought he would be very good and I’m delighted it is proving that way. He loves his fences and that has been the making of him,” said Skelton.

“I wouldn’t rate either of his performances at Cheltenham as one being better than the other.

“I think the second performance might have been downplayed as Harry (Skelton) was cautious over the last three fences. Make no mistake he put the race to bed and there was no need to be overly aggressive on him.”

In Alan King’s Edwardstone, Third Time Lucki faces a very worthwhile opponent and having finally landed his novice chase at the third time of asking in fine style, he promises to put up a stern test to the favourite.

“He is in good order. I have been very happy with him since Warwick,” said King.

“Of course it is a competitive race, but it is a Grade One, so it deserves to be.

“We’ll take our chance. He’s done everything right since Warwick and let’s see how we get on. The ground will be fine for him.”

Like Third Time Lucki, Colin Tizzard’s War Lord has won twice over fences and may have an edge when it comes to experience, having had a real tussle with Donald McCain’s Minella Drama, whom he meets again, last time out at Carlisle.

“He has done nothing wrong at all so far. He looked quite good up at Carlisle last time where he just got to the front a bit quick. He is a good prospect and could be anything still,” said Tizzard.

“He has had a good prep, but we will find out more on Saturday.”

Paul Nicholls has never been afraid to pitch his young horses in at the deep end, and following an easy win at Newbury last week his four-year-old Il Ridoto faces a marked rise in grade.

“He has been raised 12lb by the handicapper after his stylish victory last Saturday at Newbury,” Nicholls told Betfair.

Il Ridoto was impressive at Newbury last week
Il Ridoto was impressive at Newbury last week (Steven Paston/PA)

“That still leaves him with a bit to do with some of his rivals, but it’s in his favour that he gets the 6lb allowance as a four-year-old.

“Il Ridoto came on plenty for his first run at Newton Abbot, was slick over his fences at Newbury and seems in very good shape since then. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him run a big race.”

Michael Scudamore’s Do Your Job and the Sam Thomas-trained Stolen Silver complete the classy seven-runner field.

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