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Grey Dawning strikes for the Skeltons in the Turners

Grey Dawning fended off the challenge of Ginny’s Destiny to win the Turners Novices’ Chase, the opening event on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

Paul Nicholls’ Ginny’s Destiny never missed a beat out in front as he attempted to repeat Stage Star’s victory in this race 12 months ago, but Grey Dawning was never far away in the hands of the trainer’s brother, Harry, and as they headed downhill it became clear it would be an all-British shoot-out up the famous hill.

The duo swung the bend locked in unison but having jumped two out matching strides, it was the 5/2 joint-favourite who edged to the front at the last and stayed on strongly to see Skelton oust his former Ditcheat boss and register his third triumph of the week at the showpiece meeting.

Venetia Williams’ Djelo came home in third to complete a one-two-three for the home team, with Zanahiyr the best of the Irish in fourth.

Skelton said: “He was destined to be a chaser from the start and you just want it to happen so bad, so to win a Grade One novice here is great. He’s still got a huge future to look forward to, hopefully.

“We won a Grade One novice chase (at Aintree) with Protektorat, but I just feel like this horse is at least as good and potentially could be better, and that is not taking anything away from the ones we’ve had before. But time moves forward and he’s very important.

“Some people questioned coming for the race, but they can’t now! I just felt the race he ran here against Ginny’s Destiny in December was a very good race and it’s been proven so because they’ve been first and second today.”

He added: “I just thought we’re not short of speed and Fact To File did look very good in Ireland so maybe it was the sensible route (to run in this race and not Brown Advisory).

Grey Dawning being welcomed by the crowd after winning the Turners
Image: Grey Dawning being welcomed by the crowd after winning the Turners

“This is the one we really wanted. He jumped great, Harry was good on him and that was exactly how we wanted the race to go. I think it speaks volumes about the horse that we didn’t need Plan B.

“This week has to be right at the very top – hopefully it’s not over yet.”

The winning rider added: “It’s just magic. Thank you Cheltenham, thank you very much. These people make it special, it is unbelievable this place. He was great today, Dan got the right race, there was a long discussion about it.

“He’s very good, a very good horse. He’s so unassuming, you wouldn’t believe it. He doesn’t know how good he is, but hopefully he’s a bit special.”

Sky News
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