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Skelton Shines as Cheltenham prepares to bring back fans

Jockey Dan Skelton has won back to back Grade Ones at Sandown Park as fans returned to the track following the ease of coronavirus restrictions.

Skelton rode Allmankind, trained by his brother Harry, to victory in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase and Politilogue, trained by Paul Nicholls, to the Tingle Creek just 30 minutes later.

Politilogue went off as 11/8 favourite after two-time Champion Chase winner Altior was withdrawn due to the soft ground.

This bodes well for The International meeting at Cheltenham, with fans returning to Prestbury Park for the first time since the festival, on Friday.

2,000 people will be able to watch Friday’s feature race, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, live from the track with Welsh Grand National Winner Potters Corner taking on current Grand National favourite Easysland.

Both horses have already raced against each other this season, over the same course and distance, with the Christian Williams trained Potters Corner coming out on top last month.

On Saturday, there’s a star studded line-up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup including Mister Fisher, Simply The Betts and Coole Cody, all of whom have won at Cheltenham before.

Al Dancer is the current favourite at 8-1 in what should be a very competitive handicap.

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Keen race-goer, Ian Turner, who has tickets for both days of this weekend’s meet in Gloucestershire, spoke of his delight of fellow fans being allowed back in.

“Sport just isn’t the same without fans, I think we’ve seen that now. It’s been great to see the extra coverage of Horse Racing on the T.V. but it’s just not the same as being there.

“I think for the future of the sport, now is the right time to bring fans back. I personally think that horse racing is one of the safest sports to bring fans back to. It’s so open, almost everything is outdoors, so it safer than most other sports.”

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There was a lot of controversy around the festival being allowed to take place in March, but Turner believes that the sport is in a better place to deal with the pandemic.

“Looking back, it wasn’t the right decision to stage the festival, let alone allow hundreds of thousands of people in!

“Now when you go, it’s compulsory to wear a mask, you can’t bet with money and you have to remain two-metres apart. I wouldn’t be going if I didn’t think it was safe to do so!

“It could be a while until we get that signature ‘Cheltenham roar’ back, but if the right restrictions are put in place, hopefully we’ll see more than 2,000 fans in March.”

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