29 January 2022

Third Time Lucki in cruise control for Lightning strike

29 January 2022

Third Time Lucki had little trouble in landing short odds in the Watch Off The Fence On attheraces.com Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster but his Arkle participation is not set in stone.

In winning for the second time at Grade Two level this season Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old picked up a minor overreach.

While his trainer does not think the injury is anything too serious at this stage, it did make him stop short of committing the talented chaser to the Sporting Life-sponsored Arkle, for which he is now as low as 6-1.

Only three went to post, but the Skeltons will have been delighted one of them was confirmed front-runner For Pleasure, who as usual set a scorching pace.

But that was still not fast enough for Third Time Lucki, as Harry Skelton had to take a pull four fences from home.

The result was in little doubt when For Pleasure took a crashing fall at the last, as he was under pressure while Third Time Lucki was still to be asked any sort of question. He ended up finishing in a hack canter, 30 lengths clear of the only other finisher, Do Your Job.

It was a return to winning ways for Third Time Lucki, who was third to Edwardstone in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase last time out.

“He’s just very talented, but we slipped into a few mistakes last year,” said Skelton.

He just had a little bit of an overreach which I need to keep an eye on

“Sandown last time out was always going to be a bit apprehensive for a horse like him that wants decent ground, you are only going to be 50-50 to get it.

“If you turn up at Sandown with all guns blazing and it’s soft, heavy in places you end up thinking ‘why didn’t we go to Cheltenham three weeks ago when the ground was nice’.

“You have to take the opportunities when they are there. It wasn’t an afterthought, but it wasn’t Plan A. We knew going there we were stretching the band a bit.

“We gave him a break, freshened him up and this was the perfect track, perfect trip in a fast-run race and that is what he craves.”

Third Time Lucki jumps alongside Do Your Job in the early stages (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Wire)

While it did seem the perfect prep at first glance, Skelton went on to reveal the setback.

“He just had a little bit of an overreach which I need to keep an eye on. It’s nothing bad, just a little one, but we’ll just see how that is,” he said.

“I don’t know if it will keep him out of Cheltenham, it’s nothing bad.

“If he goes to Cheltenham, great. If he has to miss Cheltenham because of the overreach and wait for Aintree than that is fine as well. He’s just magic and we’re delighted to have him.”

Harry still had a double handful and he was very impressive

Owner Mike Newbould, for whom Third Time Lucki was a first winner at Cheltenham in October, was delighted with what he saw.

“He was thoroughly impressive. You can ask what we’ve beaten, but For Pleasure isn’t a bad horse – it was a shame he fell, but he was beaten when he did,” said Newbould.

“Harry still had a double handful and he was very impressive.

“We couldn’t have picked a better race. The ground is good, it was a small field and a guaranteed front-runner. Everything was spot on for him.”

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