Harry Skelton: The Debrief

Sunday 21 November

Gaia Du Gouet was really impressive in the mares’ novice hurdle at Uttoxeter. She’s a very honest mare, very straightforward, and we’ve liked what we’ve seen at home. Bigger tasks lie ahead but this was the perfect start. 

It was great to get Robert Kirkland a winner, he’s a relatively new owner to the yard and he’s got a few decent horses with us. We have a really nice group of mares and we’ve got a lot of owner breeders in the yard. They are a massive part of our sport, without them it would be very difficult and they deserve the success they get because they put a lot into it. 

Saturday 20 November  

We’re scratching our heads a little bit with Calico. It looked like he didn’t stay at Haydock, but he’s got some good form on soft ground so we’ll wait for the rain and drop him back to two miles. Hopefully that will do the trick. He’s well capable on his day, he just hasn’t had his conditions yet. The rain has to come at some point.  

Riggs ran a blinder to finish second in the big staying handicap. Haydock is quite a sharp track on good ground and a little bit of rain would have helped. Hopefully he’ll get his big day soon. We feel there’s a decent handicap in him over that trip on slightly softer ground. 

I was delighted for the connections of the winner. It was another family affair for the Williams’ and I know how much that would have meant to them. There are a lot of good female riders at the moment and Isabel is certainly one of them – she knows where the line is. Well done to them. 

You couldn’t not be impressed with A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase. I know some said the race might have fallen apart but you can only beat what’s in front of you. This is his time now, he could be the dominant horse over the next couple of years. He has matured and he looks the real deal. 

Over at Ascot, Amoola Gold ran another amazing race for Bridget off a career hight mark. They didn’t go quite as quick as we wanted as he likes the race to cut out a bit in front of him. We were obviously gutted to get beat but he’s run another stormer. He’s such a brilliant horse for his owners, he gives them so much fun. We’ve had him since he was a two-year-old, he’s like part of the family.  

Friday 19 November 

Faivoir got the job done at Ascot, that’s just what he does, he’s a winning machine. He’s a real character, he has so much ability and you can never quite get to the bottom of him. He wouldn’t give you a lot at home, he saves it for the day. Gemma who looks after him said he wouldn’t have blown a candle out after the race. He can be a tricky ride, but he’s given his owners a lot of pleasure and taken them to some big racecourses. There are no plans at the moment. 

Wednesday 17 November

It was nice to ride a double at Warwick with Hartur D’Oudairies and West Balboa. We really like both of them and Hartur, in particular, is a proper chaser in the making. He’s only four so we’re trying to make him the best chaser he can be. We won’t be over-racing him this year. West Balboa has physically improved so much for a summer holiday, she’s a big scopey filly with a lot of potential. Her owners had Roksana, so it’s nice they’ve got another mare full of potential after her.

Stepney Causeway made a nice start over fences, bumping into a good hose. He jumped well and you couldn’t have asked for much more. I think he could be interesting in the spring time on some decent ground on a nice flat track. He’s only four so everything’s in front of him. 

Tuesday 16 November

Viva Lavilla is a big chaser in the making. He’s got a real engine, but the penny hasn’t dropped yet, he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He’s big and raw and his future lies over fences. A nice horse for Darren Yeats to look forward to. 

Monday 15 November 

Get A Tonic improved really nicely from her first run, as we expected, to win at Leicester. We think there is still a lot of improvement to come from her and hope she might be Graded class one day. 

1000 up for Dan

It’s a great milestone to reach in such a short space of time. He’s got a great team behind him but he’s a fantastic leader. His attention to detail, dedication and hunger has got him to where he is. Our family is horses through and through. We’re in sport, our job is competition, we don’t do 9-5’s. It’s always about competing, about winning. If you didn’t win it was a fail. We know no different.

This week

One to keep an eye on is Heltenham at Lingfield on Thursday. He’s been working nicely at home and makes his first start for us after three runs in France. We’re looking forward to getting him started.  

Boombawn ran nicely at Newbury on his first start for us earlier this month and he is due to go back there on Friday for the maiden hurdle. We think he’s a nice horse.

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