ALCESTER trainer Dan Skelton became only the second jumps trainer to reach a double century for the season when 4-6 favourite Montego Grey made all the running with his brother Harry to land the Racing TV Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Market Rasen on Sunday, writes David Hucker.
Going into the Easter weekend, Skelton had posted 194 winners for the season, passing the 171 set by his mentor, multiple-champion Paul Nicholls, two years ago.
In reaching his total, Skelton had beaten the record set by the legendary Martin Pipe for the earliest century of winners in a season when Sam Red and amateur William Marshall had scored at Cheltenham on 26th October.
He was out of luck with runners at Newton Abbot and Carlisle on Saturday, but struck with four at Market Rasen and two at Plumpton on Sunday to join Pipe in reaching the milestone.
In what has turned out to be a memorable season in more ways than one, Skelton had a first Grade One win courtesy of Roksana in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, going on to notch a double at the jump racing’s most prestigious meeting when Ch’tibello took the Randox Health County Hurdle.
To achieve his double-century, Skelton sent out 241 horses to run in 969 races, leaving last season’s best total of 156 winners well behind in the process.
Montego Grey made it 672 British jumps winners so far in a career that is progressing season by season.
Brother Harry, who rode 170 of the 200, was on board the four winners at Market Rasen, with Marshall, now riding as a conditional jockey, on the two Plumpton successes.
Although he has two courses close to home in Warwick, where he is an ambassador, and Stratford, it was at Uttoxeter where Skelton had most success this season, with 22 percent of his 2018-19 winners coming at the Staffordshire track.
Skelton tweeted after Montego Grey had completed the milestone:”Hard to believe what has happened here in six years, but couldn’t have been achieved [it] without our owners, staff, sponsors, suppliers, vets, farriers, physios, dentists, friends, family & helpers but most of all the horses.”
The current jump season ends at Sandown Park on Saturday and it starts all over again at Uttoxeter a week later.