Dan Skelton dreaming of Aintree in national hunt hurdle at Perth

Cheltenham hero Sizing John can continue his ascent by winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup. Picture: Getty.
Cheltenham hero Sizing John can continue his ascent by winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup. Picture: Getty.
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The first Listed race ever to be staged at Perth is the centrepiece of the opening card of a three-day festival that dates back to 1989.

Leading national hunt trainers Evan Williams, Philip Hobbs, Nicky Richards and Dan Skelton are among those represented in the £20,000 EBF Stallions Gold Castle “National Hunt” Novices’ 
Hurdle staged over 3m.

Progressive Aintree My Dream is only the second runner at the Scone track for 
Skelton, while Williams’ Gayebury is the top-rated horse on a BHA mark of 147.

Philip Hobbs is a more seasoned Perth visitor and he is responsible for £110,000 December purchase Robbin’hannon. The Somerset trainer said: “He’s a nice horse and won very well at Warwick but this is an enormous step up in class. Hopefully he will have a chance as the three mile trip will suit him well.”

Richard Johnson, about to be crowned champion jockey for the second season running, is aboard Robbin’hannon, one of his three rides. He has more winners at Perth than any other track this term with a return of 17 wins out of 65.

Tom George bids to win the Phil Nelson Handicap Chase for the fourth time in seven years with A Good Skin, partnered by stable jockey Adrian Heskin. The Stroud trainer struck last year with No Duffer, in 2013 with Good Order and in 2011 with Shake The Barley.

West Country-based Nigel Hawke, a Grand National-winning jockey on Seagram in 1991, sends a rare raider from his Devon yard in the shape of Lord Ballim in the Bill And Bunny Cadogan Memorial Chase.

The afternoon begins with Grand National hero One For Arthur appearing in the paddock at 1:25pm.

At Punchestown, Cheltenham hero Sizing John can 
continue his ascent by winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on day two of the big Irish festival.

Jessica Harrington has done a fine job with this seven-year-old since he stepped up 
distance, having found Douvan a continual pain in the backside over two miles.

Victory in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown offered 
a teasing glimpse of what was to come in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in which he had nearly three lengths in hand on nearest pursuer Minella Rocco.

It is tough to envisage those that finished behind him in the Gold Cup – Djakadam, Champagne West and Outlander – turning the form on its head at Punchestown.