HORSE RACING - Skelton compares Protektorat to Forrest Gump after Cheltenham Festival success - The Stratford Observer

HORSE RACING - Skelton compares Protektorat to Forrest Gump after Cheltenham Festival success

Stratford Editorial 15th Mar, 2024 Updated: 19th Mar, 2024   0

PROTEKTORAT may be ‘mad as a wasp’, in jockey Harry Skelton’s words to ITV Racing, but the French-bred nine-year-old thrilled the crowds when taking the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham Festival.

The win gave his owners Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and John and Lisa Hales a quickfire double just minutes after Monmiral won the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle.

And Shelfield Green handler Dan Skelton compared Protektorat to Oscar-winning comedy-drama protagonist Forrest Gump.

Dan said: “He [Protektorat] was great – absolutely fantastic. When you see Envoi Allen loom up like that with all that experience around here, you just think, ‘Oh no’, but what a gritty, unbelievable horse.

“Some horses just love to run, and he’s like Forrest Gump. He just runs.

“He’s not quite Gold Cup standard. The reason I didn’t run him over this trip until now is that we’ve been trying to win a Gold Cup.

“It’s the one race the boys have not won and want to win, but it was obvious at the start of this season we needed to come down this route. That’s a biggie. That was brilliant. It’s magic.”

Harry added: “This horse deserves a day like this. He’s knocked at the door, and he’s won them in the past, but that’s a real big one for his CV.

“I just wanted to make sure I was out of the gate well, and, to be honest, that’s near enough the first time in his life that he’s settled.

“I was out smart and once they went real quick over the first two fences he was then almost in top gear, so I just slotted in behind Harry Cobden [riding Stage Star, eventual fifth].

“I always knew Ahoy Senor [sixth] would be out to the right and so I’d have a gap when I needed one. I felt Rachael [Blackmore, on Envoi Allen, runners-up] come to my girths once we straightened up, but I wasn’t too worried as I knew he’d keep going real well.

“He’s a brave horse, and he was really good at the last. It’s a joy, isn’t it. It’s what you need.”

Protekrotat’s triumph handed trainer Dan and brother Harry a fourth winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

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