Champion jockey Harry Skelton talks through his rides on first day of Cheltenham November Meeting including My Drogo

I’M hoping for a positive Drog test on the opening day of the November Meeting.

MY DROGO (2.20) may only have one runner to beat but I am hoping my lad will wow the fans at Cheltenham.

And there will be plenty of them this afternoon — not to mention tomorrow and Sunday. It will be the biggest attendance at the track since the 2020 Festival and everyone’s going to be up for it.

I’m sure the atmosphere will be electric — bring it on!

Make no mistake this meeting is a big deal for all of us — now’s the time when we stop talking the talk off the track . . . and start walking the walk on it.

We’ve always loved My Drogo who makes his first start over fences in the 2m4f novice chase.

He was super over hurdles last season and got better with each run before signing off with that nine-and-a-half-length romp in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.

We went pretty light on him as we always had one eye on this season. Dan and I have always thought he has the size and scope to be a proper good chaser.

We’ve been very happy with everything he’s done at home, he’s been schooling nicely.

He’s settled down and grown up a bit this year, which is important, and it will be good to get some experience around Cheltenham.

The race comes at the right time. He’s an exciting horse but this is just the start of his season.

From the race perspective it is a shame we only have the one rival to beat now. That seems to be the way of the world in the novice chase division and we have seen plenty of races already this term with just three or four runners.

The race is worth £20,000 and I am sure there are a few trainers and owners out there now who wish they had entered their horses.

As it is Gin On Lime is very experienced and I think this will be her eighth run over fences. Let’s just hope she turns up or otherwise we won’t even get the chance to jump a fence!

Seriously though, I’ve seen plenty of Henry de Bromhead runners up close ‘n personal and yet to see one who doesn’t jump well so it’ll be interesting to see how my lad compares. Fingers crossed we go well.

My first ride of the day is HATCHER (1.45) in the two-mile handicap chase.

He had a very good summer and ran nicely over course and distance on his reappearance last month.

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The handicapper looks to have him at the moment, I don’t think he’s got anything to play with, but hopefully he can pick up some prize-money on ground that suits.

We were pleased with KAYF HERNANDO (3.30) at Carlisle on his first start over hurdles. He battled really well and showed a great attitude.

He looks like he stays well so he shouldn’t have any problem with the extra furlong here.

This is obviously a step up in grade early on in his career, but we liked what we saw at Carlisle and he deserves to have a go at something like this.

There are plenty of unexposed horses in the field. Gelino Bello for Paul Nicholls looks the one to beat.

My final ride of the day is PERCY’S WORD (4.00) in the competitive handicap hurdle.

He had a very good summer but wasn’t at his best at Huntingdon last time, so we’ve freshened him up a bit since. I’d say he has an each-way chance in an open race.

Of course, it’s not all about today and we have a big day tomorrow with Protektorat in the big race, Third Time Lucki in the two-mile novice chase and Proschema in the Listed handicap hurdle.

Then on Sunday it’s Nube Negra in the Shloer and West Cork in the Greatwood. If this weekend doesn’t get a jockey’s heart racing I don’t know what will.

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