Dan Skelton admits he is “massively tempted” to head to next month’s Ladbrokes Trophy with Shan Blue.
The seven-year-old was a most unlucky loser in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday – when he nonetheless signalled a big season is surely ahead after storming clear of his Grade Two rivals only to take a heavy fall when in a 20-length lead at the third-last.
The exact timing of Shan Blue’s unfortunate departure is highly significant – because he cannot go up in the handicap after an exit at that point, however clear it appeared that he was in control of the race.
For that reason, Skelton acknowledges he and owner Colm Donlon face a “big decision” over whether to take advantage of his unchanged rating of 148 in one of the most famous jumps races in the calendar, on November 27.
Skelton has yet to win the Newbury showpiece – and asked about the chances of trying to do so with Shan Blue, he said: “It’s massively tempting.
“I don’t think the trip is an issue; Newbury as a track is not an issue.
“I’d prefer it to be 10 runners, not 20, but that’s not the Ladbrokes.
“It’s one of the biggies in the calendar, and you sometimes only get one chance in a career to win a race like that – and it’s staring us quite obviously in the face, off 148.
“So you’ve got to take it very, very seriously.”
The Alcester trainer has already chatted to Donlon about the prospect – at Wetherby, as soon as it was confirmed Shan Blue was unscathed following his mishap.
“I had half a discussion with Colm about it yesterday, and we’re both talking about it very professionally and giving it the time of day that it deserves,” Skelton told Racing TV’s Luck On Sunday programme.
“Ultimately, we’ve got a big decision to make. If he’d fallen two out, it’s taken out of the equation … (so) you’ve kind of got to make the decision (now), it’s not been made for you.”
Whether Shan Blue’s next assignment is in handicap company, or Kempton’s King George VI Chase – where he would surely be directly headed if he had stayed on his feet in the Charlie Hall – Skelton is confident major prizes should still lie ahead.
“I think we can all agree we’ve seen something a bit special there, and there are big days to come with him,” he added.
“He’s got the constitution, physical and mental to get over something like this.
“The most important thing is soundness, and he was sound immediately afterwards yesterday – (and) he’s sound this morning.
“We consider ourselves very, very lucky that he is.
“I don’t think there’s going to be an emotional scar here (for the horse). I can’t guarantee it – I can only talk on his behalf the best I know him. He can’t directly tell me there’s not a problem, but I’d be surprised.
“He’s one of the many horses I could say ‘they’re tough enough to bounce back’.”