Leading National Hunt jockey and Grosvenorsport.com ambassador Harry Skelton shares his thoughts on the latest talking points in the sport, plus looks at all his rides for tomorrow at Wincanton.
I’m delighted to be writing my new blog for Grosvenor Sport for the rest of the season at what is the most exciting time of the year with the big spring festivals to come. I obviously had a fantastic start to the season through the summer and it was always our aim to get out of the blocks as quickly as possible. The horses did their job in the summer and thankfully they’ve continued in great form throughout the winter.
The last two weeks have obviously brought things to a halt with the snow and then equine influenza, but we’re looking forward to the spring now. Due to the new regulations we’ve had to give all our horses a flu vaccination which means for the next 10 days or a fortnight we have to go pretty steady.
We’ve vaccinated in January in the past, but we didn’t last year and decided not to again this year. It isn’t the end of the world, though, we just have to get on with it.
The BHA had to a make a decision very quickly once they heard the news from Donald’s [McCain] yard. They had to do what was best for the industry and all the horses. They were never going to please everyone but I think they’ve handled it very well.
Like I said, I made a great start to the season and becoming champion jockey is every jockey’s dream. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t want to do it one day, but you have to be realistic. Just on the sheer number of rides Dickie [Richard Johnson] has, it’s going to be very hard to beat him, but I’ll try to give him as much of a run as I can.
In every single way Dickie is the perfect role model for any young jockey. He still rides now like he’s 18 which says it all really. He’s a fantastic jockey and the way he is on and off the course, I have total respect for him.
Back to our yard, and we’re obviously very pleased with how things have gone over the past few years, we could only have dreamed about what’s happened. We’re starting to get those future horses coming through now which is exciting, but we’re certainly not afraid of winning a seller on a Monday if it means a winner. We’ve got some fantastic owners who are great supporters of the yard which you always need.
We have 30 unraced bumper horses in the yard and a number of them are very well bred. We’re looking forward to running them, either in the spring or in the autumn. We’ve always said that we need those type of horses for the future. Hopefully one or two of them will end up as stars!
Azzuri – 1:45
I’m off to Wincanton for six rides on Saturday and first up is Azzuri in the 2m handicap chase, the only runner from our yard this weekend.
He did well for us last season, winning at Ayr in the spring. He then went over to Ireland for the summer and did really well on the Flat. He had a bit of a break before running at Sandown a couple of weeks ago where he was a bit disappointing. Hopefully he’ll run a bit better on Saturday.
Marienstar – 2:20
I hope Marienstar will have a good chance in the Listed mares’ chase. This will be my first time riding her and she has to get over her heavy fall at the last at Huntingdon last month. She’d done very well prior to that though, winning three on the bounce, so let’s hope she can get her head back in front.
Grand Sancy – 3:00
I’m really excited to be riding for Paul [Nicholls] again. Obviously all his jockeys are going elsewhere, so it was nice to get the call to ride for him at Wincanton. I went down to Ditcheat on Friday morning to ride work for the first time in about six or seven years. It brought back a lot of memories.
Grand Sancy has done well already this season, he’s a solid horse who runs his race each time. He was a good second in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time. There are only five runners but it looks pretty competitive with the likes of Sceau Royal who is back over hurdles after running over fences. It’s an open race, but I’d be hopeful of a very good run.
Overland Flyer – 4:05
Overland Flyer goes in the 3m 1f handicap chase. He did well as a novice hurdler and has run a few times over fences. He’s been off for a while and has had his wind done. On his old form he looks to be off a decent mark, although he has a break to overcome.
Peak To Peak – 4:35
Peak To Peak has been off for a long time, he last ran in the Silver Trophy Hurdle at Chepstow in October 2017. He was a good third behind Court Minstrel that day, which is decent form and hopefully he can run well after his long break.
Demon Fou – 5:10
It’s nice to pick up a ride for Jeremy Scott whose horses are in great form. Demon Fou won a maiden hurdle at Taunton in November and was then a little keen last time over three miles. The better ground and drop back in trip should suit him and hopefully his first time hood will help him settle a bit better.
Leave a Reply