Grosvenorsport.com ambassador Harry Skelton reflects on his Cheltenham Festival experience, his rides this weekend at Newbury as well as his thoughts on Noel Fehily ahead of his retirement.
There is always a lot of pressure going into Cheltenham and a winner makes all the difference. It was such a fantastic week. Everyone was so delighted to get our first Grade 1 winner with Roksana in the Mares’ Hurdle, it meant an awful lot. We had a bit of luck on our side with Benie Des Dieux falling at the last, but you have to take that in jump racing.
Willie Mullins came up to Dan and I in the paddock straight after the race which showed how good a man he is. He’s the ultimate professional. That’s one thing that racing is very good at, there are a lot of good people in the industry. We all have ups and downs but everyone supports each other.
Ch’tibello was a long term plan in the County Hurdle and it paid off. It’s been a very lucky race for us and thankfully all of the horses have come out of the Festival really well.
It was an absolutely brilliant Festival, the crowds were unbelievable. Paisley Park was great for all the connections, Altior was fantastic in the Champion Chase and it was really nice for Willie to win the Gold Cup. I can’t wait until next year.
Dan and all the team are now trying to get to 200 winners for the season, which is going to be very hard to achieve. We’ll all be pushing as hard as we can to get there.
Etamine Du Cochet – 3:15
Etamine Du Cochet goes for the mares’ final and we’ve decided to put a tongue tie on her. She has also undergone a soft palate operation since her last run at Uttoxeter when she ran about a bit in the closing stages. Hopefully that will make her see out the race a bit better.
Bridget rides So Lonely and I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran well. The big field will suit, she’ll be dropped in and try to come late.
Cobra De Mai – 3:50
Cobra De Mai loves a small field and has done so well for his connections. He is running off a mark of 143 and it’s fantastic to get him that high. He will need another improved effort to win, but the small field will suit.
Humble Hero – 4:25
Humble Hero was quite a decent horse on the flat and his two runs for us have been encouraging, finishing second both times. He looks to have a good chance in this.
Nimby – 5:00
My last ride of the day is Nimby in the valuable bumper. This is an ultra-competitive race and the better the ground the better his chance. Harry Fry’s Get In The Queue, who is also owned by the Rooneys, looks the one to beat following his impressive win at Exeter last time.
Noel’s final ride will be on Get In The Queue and he will be missed by all of us in the weighing room. He’s the complete professional and he’s always been someone I’ve looked up to and watched and learned from. He’s been such a fantastic role model in the way he conducts himself.
I’m off on my stag do on Sunday for four days which should be really fun. We’re going skiing in Morzine in France. There are 16 of us, including Dan, Tom Messenger and some of the lads at the yard like Sam, Tolly and Nick. We’re all looking forward to it, I’m sure it will be a lively few days!
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