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Kateira collects another good prize to add to Skelton’s title charge

Kateira landed a vital blow in Dan Skelton’s quest for a first trainers’ championship when romping home in the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Aintree.

Second in Grade One company over track and trip 12 months ago, the seven-year-old has always possessed plenty of class and produced a performance full of quality to register a one-and-three-quarter-length success.

Having seen off the challenge of long-time front-runner Inthewaterside she kept on gamely to the line as Grade One course winner Jango Baie gave chase in vein.

Nicky Henderson’s runner can perhaps count himself an unlucky loser as he adds more evidence to the Seven Barrows resurgence case, but the 5-1 co-favourite was strong at the finish to give the Skelton team their second win in three years following Langer Dan’s triumph in 2022.

Skelton said: “She’s a good horse, we came here last year for a Grade One which shows you what we thought of her but she just got lost in the autumn and winter on very bad ground.

“I actually stepped her up to three miles but when you do that it is because you are struggling. What she wants is two and a half miles on decent ground and if this race was yesterday it would probably have been too soft for her.

“She’s just really good, I’d have no worries stepping out of handicaps again after that, she might go to Sandown on the last day. Since this meeting last year if she didn’t end up being a graded horse this was the race we were always looking at.”

Skelton is involved in a triple challenge for the trainers’ title but said he is not letting it dictate his plans. He smiled: “I think this race should be worth £500,000!

“I went to bed last night thinking I’m not going to think about it again, it either happens or it doesn’t and I’m going to run the horses I’m going to run.

“I got worked up about it last week trying to think what Paul (Nicholls) and Willie (Mullins) were going to run but I can’t affect that. I’ve got to enjoy otherwise you have a winner like that and open the book and see how much it was worth. I’m not doing it for that.”

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