Leading Trainer Stakes
Much has been made of the Irish dominance at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years.
Only one English rider has claimed the Top Jockey award at the meeting since 2007, while in the Leading Trainer stakes there’s just a sole Nicky Henderson triumph to write about in the past decade.
If you fire up the Cheltenham Festival ante-post odds for the horse racing betting in 2022, you will also note that the vast majority of favourites for the major races – from Minella Indo in the Gold Cup to Allaho in the Ryanair Chase – are all trained on the Emerald Isle.
Henderson will attempt to lead the charge for the Brits in 2022, and he might well be joined in that endeavour by leading trainer hopeful, Dan Skelton, a trainer whose success on English soil is yet to truly manifest itself in a big race at the March showpiece.
But the West Midlands handler has a particularly impressive yard to work with right now, and three of his charges, in particular, are attracting plenty of interest in the various horse racing tips columns for the Festival.
Skelton was half-a-length away from triumphing in the 2021 Champion Chase at Cheltenham, and the horse responsible for that near-miss – Nube Negra – is back and looks poised for further improvement. But for a slight stumble at the last fence, the seven-year-old might well have usurped Put the Kettle On, and now a year older and more mature, plenty is expected.
Nube Negra’s seasonal return could not have gone any better either. He carried more weight than his Champion Chase nemesis but still opened up a ten-length gap, and he was comfortably clear of second-placed Politologue to claim the Shloer Chase, also held at Cheltenham.
The course form is starting to stack up very nicely for Skelton’s prized asset, and the trainer has already confirmed that a run in the Champion Hurdle next year could well be in the offing.
Despite a disappointing seasonal return at Chepstow, Allmankind has already made amends by triumphing in the Old Roan Handicap at Aintree as the top weight, and so it will be interesting to see the hit-and-miss five-year-old fares this term.
A multiple Class 1 winner, Allmankind has already beaten the likes of the fancied Hitman and produced a strong effort in last season’s Arkle, running prominently throughout before being hauled in by the impressive Shishkin at the business end.
It will be intriguing to see how a slight step up in trip suits, but if that goes swimmingly then a run out in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival in March is a distinct possibility.
The six-year-old became something of a viral sensation when his stumbling end to the Super Alloys Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in November delivered one of the most unique finishes you are likely to see in the sport.
Drama in the SSS Super Alloys Novices' Chase!— ITV Racing (@itvracing) November 12, 2021
Gin on Lime takes after both horses tumble at the second last but Rachael Blackmore clings on
Both Harry Skelton and My Drogo walk away unscathed#ITVRacing pic.twitter.com/kCegX887Lt
Nevertheless, My Drogo was travelling very nicely at the time of his fall, and if anything, his standing ahead of the Festival has improved on the back of that performance – the rather infamous fall aside.
Already a winner at Aintree and Ascot, My Drogo is yet to score at Cheltenham but certainly looks to have the running style to go very favourably, and he – like Allmankind and Nube Negra – could be ones to watch ahead of the spring showpiece occasion.