Dan Skelton is one of the most familiar trainers in Spain as he looks after Nube Negra, the Spanish-bred chaser who has won five of his 12 races over fences, including success at Grade Two level.

Skelton, a former assistant to Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls, continues to grow his Lodge Hill trainer operation, and this season he goes into the biggest week of the year, the Cheltenham Festival, with strong hopefuls. Here is a look at some of those chances.

Protektorat – Cheltenham Gold Cup

Skelton saddles Protektorat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year and his talented chaser is +1200 in the latest Cheltenham odds from Paddy Power for the biggest race of the week. He is up there with the leading contenders for that race along with Galopin Des Champs and A Plus Tard.

The Gold Cup takes place on the final day of the week and Protektorat could help deliver Skelton the leading trainer award at the meeting. Those looking to place a Cheltenham Festival top trainer bet on the Lodge Hill man can pick up odds of +10000.

Protektorat defeated last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner at Haydock earlier this season. If he can reproduce that run at Cheltenham, he will be in with a big chance of success.

Nube Negra – Queen Mother Champion Chase

Many horse racing fans in Spain will be tuning in for the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two of the Cheltenham Festival to see if Nube Negra can land the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Spanish-bred horse finished second in the race in 2021, as you can read in the Guardian report.

Since that runner-up finish at the meeting two years ago, Nube Negra has had some mixed form. He won the Grade Two Shloer Chase in back-to-back years, while on his last appearance, he finished 13 lengths behind Editeur Du Gite in the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton.

On his day, Nube Negra is capable of being in the mix at the business end of the Championship race. Hopefully, he can bounce back from his latest effort.

Third Time Lucki – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

After victory at Sandown on his latest start, Third Time Lucki goes into the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase in great form. It was the fourth success of his career when he landed the 1m7½f event.

The handicapper has put Skelton’s runner up 6lb in the ratings but with more improvement likely, he is a big player in the day two contest.

Pembroke – County Handicap Hurdle

With two wins from four starts over hurdles, it has been an excellent start to his hurdles career for Pembroke. He picked up victories at Wetherby and Ludlow in the early stages of the campaign, while last time out at Cheltenham, he finished second in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The six-year-old gelding is now off an official mark of 136. He will line up in the County Handicap Hurdle with one of the lowest weight allocations in the field.

The 2023 Cheltenham Festival runs from March 14-18 and there will be a total of 28 races across the week from Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire.