Doyen Quest delivers for Skelton team at Newbury

By Sports Desk March 22, 2024

Dan and Harry Skelton’s memorable March continued at Newbury on Friday as Doyen Quest rediscovered winning ways in the Daily Racing Specials At BetVictor Handicap Hurdle.

The Alcester-based team claimed four winners at the Cheltenham Festival last week, a run of results which saw older brother Dan Skelton go ahead of his former boss and mentor Paul Nicholls in the race to be crowned this season’s champion trainer.

Subsequent victories at Kempton, Uttoxeter, Chepstow and Market Rasen have kept the Skelton ball rolling in the past week and Doyen Quest did his bit for the team with a narrow verdict in Berkshire.

The six-year-old was the 100-30 favourite to notch a second career win, having had to make do with the runner-up spot on his latest appearance at Taunton, and got on top close home to score by a neck from the Sam Thomas-trained Steel Ally.

Dan Skelton said: “I’m delighted with that, we were able to turn him out quickly before the penalty kicked in and he finished really well. Hopefully there’s a bit more to come from him.”

On the title race, he added: “The horses are obviously in good form, but we’ve got to keep it going.

“We’re in front at the moment, but there’s still some major meetings to come – it’s going to be a long five weeks!

“I won’t be coming back here (Newbury) tomorrow (Saturday) thinking we’ll definitely have a winner, but hopefully we have a few chances.”

The Skeltons were denied a double by the narrowest of margins in the following Steve Jobar MND Handicap Hurdle, with Take No Chances coming off second best in a pulsating three-way finish.

Lucy Wadham’s Zain Nights (5-1) was called the winner by a nose in the hands of Tom Cannon, with Take No Chances second and Hermino AA only a short head further away in third.

The Bet In-Play On Racing At BetVictor Novices’ Hurdle was a similarly close-run affair, with Harry Derham’s newcomer Huffin A Puffin (10-1) lunging late under Paul O’Brien to pip the more experienced favourite 6-4 favourite Ballybentragh by a short head.

Derham, another successful graduate of the Nicholls academy at Ditcheat, said: “He’s a lovely big horse and I wasn’t really sure he’d be ready enough to win today, so that was a nice surprise.

“He’s learning on the job and I’m not in a rush to do anything mad with him. He could have another run this season, but we’ll see.

“Hopefully he’s a horse to look forward to. He doesn’t have enough experience to go novice chasing next season so we’ll probably stick to hurdles.”

Nicholls himself got on the scoresheet with the Natalie Parker-ridden Secret Investor (3-1) in the Lengthen The Odds At BetVictor Open Hunters’ Chase, while David Pipe and Jack Tudor combined for a double on the card with Neon Moon a 12-1 winner of the Get Best Odds Guaranteed At BetVictor Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and Bumpy Johnson scoring at 11-1 in the Download The BetVictor App Handicap Hurdle.

Richard Bandey’s Maclaine (3-1) impressed in the Get A Run For Your Money At BetVictor Handicap Chase, with Harry Bannister the winning pilot.

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