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Dan Skelton savours Willow's Saviour's Ladbroke victory

Updated: Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 19:40 | Comments

Willow's Saviour is unbeaten in three starts for Dan Skelton
Willow's Saviour is unbeaten in three starts for Dan Skelton

Dan Skelton's arrival to the training ranks has been little less than astonishing as Willow's Saviour brought about his 15th and considerably most important winner in The Ladbroke at Ascot.

It is less than four months since Skelton sent out the first runner from his purpose-built stable in Warwickshire and, on this occasion, he was beating his long-term mentor Paul Nicholls, whose Ptit Zig finished four lengths behind in second.

Irish raider Flaxen Flare was third, while Chris Pea Green finished fourth.

Staged in near-dusk as the final event of a gloomy day, Willow's Saviour powered through the mud under the trainer's brother, Harry, as a well-backed 10-1 chance from the bottom of the handicap.

An 11-race maiden when with the eminently capable Charlie Longsdon, the six-year-old is now unbeaten in three starts for new connections, over this course last month and when sent up to Musselburgh in order to secure his berth in the £150,000 event.

"It hasn't really sunk in, I've experienced big days with Paul but it's completely different when you're doing it on your own," said Skelton.

"I watched the race with Paul and I turned to him and just turned to him and said, 'Sorry'. I owe that man so much, and without him there's no way I would be in this position.

"He sneaked in at the bottom and Harry has had a dream run. It's just fantastic.

"He had a wind op in the summer but I can't explain the progress of the horse.

"I will probably put him away until the Betfair Hurdle and he'll get a few entries for the Festival, but the horse owes us nothing already.

"Hopefully I'll train plenty of good horses in my career, but I'll never forget Willow's Saviour, that's for sure."

Harry Skelton was given a two-day whip ban (5-6 January).

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