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Alcester trainer Dan Skelton relishing Nube Negra's showdown with 'high-class' Edwardstone at The November Meeting at Cheltenham

DAN Skelton revealed he is relishing the prospect of a mouth-watering clash between stable star Nube Negra and last season’s leading novice Edwardstone in the Grade Two Shloer Chase on day three of The November Meeting at Cheltenham on Sunday, reports Nick Seddon.

Dan Skelton and Nube Negra. Photo: The Jockey Club/Grossick Photography (60554583)
Dan Skelton and Nube Negra. Photo: The Jockey Club/Grossick Photography (60554583)

The eight-year-old took the notable scalps of two champion chasers in Put The Kettle On and Politologue when winning the race in some style 12 months ago, though Alcester trainer Skelton opted against running his charge in the Betway Champion Chase at The Festival at the last minute due to rain on the big day.

The son of Dink then disappointed on his final start in the Grade One Celebration Chase at Sandown Park in April and he will face a graduating novice in Edwardstone, who couldn’t have been much more impressive when winning the Grade One Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase for Alan King in March.

However, Skelton feels there are mitigating circumstances around Nube Negra’s two poor runs at Sandown last term and he’s hoping race fans will see a different proposition this weekend.

“There will be two very different mindsets between us and Alan King going into next week – one will want rain and one won’t,” he said. “He can run on good to soft, especially when he’s fresh, but it’s very much the better the ground, the better the horse with him.

“[Nube Negra] is irritatingly good fresh if that makes sense, as it’s hard to back up a good race in quick succession. You have to give him these extended breaks between races, but we’ll see how we get on at Cheltenham.

“We would love to win the race again and if it happens we will make a plan after that. If we get beaten we’d have to go hunting for a race but if he can win it will take the pressure off as he can’t have a bad year so to speak.

“Edwardstone is a mightily high-class opponent, albeit one who is stepping out of novice company for the first time, so we’ve got a task on our hands.”

He added: “It was a massive blow to miss out on the Champion Chase, but when the conditions went the way they did it wasn’t a blow at all. If I’d have run him he could still have been out there now, but it was a blow to get that rain and miss out – of course it was. There’s unfinished business for sure and we’d love to get a fair crack at the race again in suitable conditions, but that’s in the lap of the gods as you saw last year.”

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