Harry Skelton Monday Debrief
Tuesday, 25 January
Go Steady ran well and probably just bumped into an improving type at Leicester. Our lad is 10 years old and we’ve just trying to find a novice race that might cut up for him. We might go back over fences next time and he can win again soon.
Dan found a very good race for Walk In Clover to get off the mark. She hasn’t been with us all that long, but she seems very straightforward. She jumped nicely and looks to have a nice future in front of her. She’s a nice big mare and will jump a fence someday.
Wednesday, 26 January
Knickerbockerglory was a bit frustrating as he didn’t really settle well upfront and then weakened out of contention turning in. He seemed to over-race in the early stages and that cost him as he couldn’t pick up late on. I feel he’s better than his finishing result and is not one to lose faith in. I think he wants very soft ground as he tends to go through that well when others can’t, so we’ll look for a race on as soft a ground as possible.
Farmer’s Gamble ran well enough in the novice hurdle. He’s quite green and backward and I don’t think the penny has dropped yet with him. It was a nice enough run and hopefully he can improve on that effort.
Thursday, 27 January
Message Personnel ran a better race than on his first start for us at Cheltenham. He didn’t have a break in the summer as he came from France straight to us, so he’s done quite well considering that. Sometimes horses can just take a while to acclimatise to new surroundings. He feels like a stayer and I think we’ll look to step him up in trip next time. He’s probably a horse for next year and after a good summer he should do really well.
Sholokjack is an imposing, strong type of horse and has an awful lot of ability. He looked impressive at Wetherby and seemed to enjoy the galloping track. He’s definitely a stayer for the future and he’s going the right way. He can be a bit of a handful sometimes, but the team at home are working very well with him.
Friday, 28 January
Ridgeway did it nicely when getting off to a winning start at Doncaster. It was great to get Foxtrot Racing a winner, as they’ve given us support since we started. They look to have a nice horse here with a good attitude and hopefully he can progress again.
King D’Argent ran well but is just in the grip of the handicapper at the moment. Until the handicapper relents a bit he’s probably on a stiff enough mark. With a few pounds back, hopefully he can be winning again soon, but until that happens I can’t see much of an improvement.
Saturday, 29 January
At Doncaster on Saturday, Jay Jay Reilly won well and looked to improve for the step up in trip. He got an easy time up front, which helped, he jumped great and stayed on well to the line. Bridget said after riding him the time before that we should step up in trip, and two and a half miles definitely helped him. A good team to make the right decisions makes all the difference.
Third Time Lucki was very impressive in the Lightning Novices’. Dan had wanted to go there with him, and it was a good decision. He travelled and jumped with ease the whole way round. It was the first time he’d had a bit of nice ground since the autumn. I feel that just holding on to him a bit is the way to ride him, as he’s got a lot of pace. If the ground is good for him in the spring, he’ll be a player wherever he goes.
The Real Whacker ran a good race on only his third start over hurdles. As you saw at the finish, he was still a bit green, but the headwind was quite bad at Doncaster and that might have had quite a bit to do with it. I was impressed with him and he looks a real stayer. I’m sure he will be seen in a better light over fences, and there’s a lot of improvement in him.
Debece hadn’t run for a long time and ran a bit fresh. He jumped and travelled well for two miles and then just got tired from four out. He’s obviously 11 now and not an improving horse, but I don’t feel he’s finished yet. We might step back in distance next time.
At Cheltenham, Beakstown ran well again. The winner, Imperial Alcazar, is an improving type of horse and I feel our lad has bumped into that sort of rival the last twice now. It looks now that we can step up to three miles. He enjoys better ground, so while that’s around hopefully we can find him a winning opportunity.
Spiritofthegames ran his usual race around Cheltenham. He loves the fences and the track. If it had been a bit softer it might have just helped him, but he’s a credit to himself and is still in good form.
We were absolutely delighted with Not Now Linda. That was such a promising run on her debut in a Listed race, and she showed a high level of ability. It looks like we have a good mare on our hands, and we’ll look for a winning opportunity in the spring. Next year she should prove to be better over hurdles too.
Pied Piper was very impressive and looked in a different class all the way through the race. We’re going to have to up our game come Cheltenham.
Paisley Park has been unbelievable for connections. The longevity that he has had, and the fact he keeps coming back is amazing. To do what he did at the start and then still win was brilliant. He certainly knows where the line is at Cheltenham and he’s going to be a player come the Stayers’.
The Winter Million was a great initiative, putting on fantastic prizemoney. Obviously, there were lots of small fields, but I think the ground had a lot to do with that, as people were a bit nervous of going to Lingfield with the going being heavy. Everyone at Lingfield did a great job and it’s an initiative that deserves to stay in the calendar.
With Cheltenham in mind, it’s position may be a little early in the season – a fortnight later might be slightly better.
There is a lot of focus on the Cheltenham Festival, but at the end of the day it is our Olympics. I think it is a good thing that there is hype ahead of it, because ultimately, it’s a great event for National Hunt racing. However, there are other big races and courses putting on excellent prize money throughout the season and that shouldn’t be missed.
Seven No Trumps is one to watch at Chepstow on Friday. I think he’s a progressive horse and this galloping track will suit him well.