Bubble wrap comes off as My Drogo is unleashed at Cheltenham

There is no going back now for trainer Dan Skelton as he prepares to hand exciting star My Drogo his highly anticipated chase debut at Cheltenham on Friday.

The six-year-old son of Milan ended last season as arguably the best novice hurdler in Britain after taking the Grade One Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.

After being given the summer to grow and rest, My Drogo is set to head straight over fences, beginning as planned at the Gloucestershire track this week.

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He takes on two rivals – Henry de Bromhead’s Gin On Lime and Gordon Elliott’s Fancy Foundations.

“I’ve always wanted to start at this race at Cheltenham and we can’t back out of it at the last minute,” Skelton told Sky Sports Racing.

“I’ve been happy with him and it’s all gone according to plan thus far. Now the bubble wrap comes off and it’s time to get stuck in.

“I’m looking forward to it. There’s no point feeling pressure, you’ve just got to get on with it.”

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My Drogo races clear at Aintree in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

Stablemate Third Time Lucki has already made an impressive start to life over the larger obstacles, winning in style at Cheltenham’s October meeting.

He is set to return to the track on Saturday in the two-mile novices’ chase and Skelton believes more of the same will be enough to double his tally.

“We’re happy that there’s not too much rain around for him,” Skelton said. “Soft [ground] would be fine but not soft to heavy. We tried that a couple of times last year and it didn’t work.

“His jumping was very good that first day and he’s got to go and do it again although a run similar to the first time would suffice.”

Third Time Lucki was very impressive on his chase debut at Cheltenham last month

It could be a very productive weekend for the in-form Skelton yard, who are likely to saddle the favourite in the feature Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday.

Protektorat, who was last seen winning the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April, is a general 5/1 shot to make a winning return to action.

“We’re really happy with him and this has always been the plan,” Skelton said.

“I wouldn’t have minded getting a run into him but since the weather has been as it is I knew I wasn’t going to so I’ve doubled down with him at home and fitness won’t be an issue. You won’t see me afterwards saying that he blew up.

Proktektorat on his way to victory at Aintree in April

“He’s ready, he’s won at the track before and is a Grade One horse in a handicap so hopefully that suffices.

“It’s a GBP160,000 race so you’re going to have horses set up for it. Lalor is also a Grade One winner and if Paul [Nicholls] has waved a magic wand then he looks very well handicapped on old form.

“It’s going to be a great Paddy Power and we’re delighted to be at the head of the market.”

Put The Kettle On (orange and black) beats Nube Negra (left) to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March

Nube Negra looks ready to once again take on Champion Chase winner Put The Kettle On after being narrowly defeated by Henry de Bromhead’s mare at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

“I think the track really suits him and there is no rain forecast which will suit,” Nicholls said.

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“He’s got to give the mare [Put The Kettle On] 7lbs but he did that at the Festival and only just got beat by her.

“We’re just going to give it another go and I’m happy with him.”

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