Brothers saddle up their milestone 1,000th winner
BROTHERS Dan Skelton and Harry Skelton secured a breakthrough success in British horseracing on Saturday after becoming the first siblings to secure 1,000 winners together following the victory of Grey Dawning in the Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase, reports Graham Clark.
The Grade Two-winning hurdler opened his account over fences at the second time of asking to complete a double on the day for the Shelfield Green based brothers.
Pressing on after five out the 2-1 chance galloped on relentlessly all the way to the line to defeat Gaillard Du Mesnil, winner of last season’s WellChild National Hunt Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and third in the Randox Grand National, by nine and a half lengths.
Dan Skelton explained: “I’ve been keeping an eye on it. I’ve actually been going racing for the last five days hoping it would happen, but I hadn’t told Harry because I didn’t want to put more pressure on it.
“It definitely hasn’t been done with brothers before. I’ve had a look back through and Philip Hobbs and Dicky Johnson are the highest ever in the UK (most wins for a trainer/jockey partnership) and we’ve got more than 250 to go to match them!”
As for Grey Dawning, a first start at Cheltenham beckons next ahead of a return to Grade Two level, and a step back up to three miles, in the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick on January 13th.
Skelton added: “He’s a horse we had high aspirations for last year as a novice hurdler and he tipped up at Aintree and it wasn’t meant to be in a Grade One so here we are going chasing, which is his real job, and he’s going the right way.
“He will probably go to the Christmas Meeting at Cheltenham next for an extended two and a half mile novices’ chase before going to Warwick on January 13th for the Hampton Novices’ Chase.”
The Grade One winning trainer intends to work back from the Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree in the spring with Real Stone, who initiated the brothers brace when cruising to glory by 20 lengths in the betting.betfair.com Handicap Chase.
Skelton said of the successful 15-8 Favourite: “The race fell apart dramatically with the two that dropped out being pretty good horses on their day.
“He is a horse that is probably going to have a few good days in the sun as he has not had a lot of racing as a youngster and hopefully he can be productive in the latter part of his career.
“He needs to go left-handed and we’ll keep an eye on the Red Rum at Aintree in the spring.”
There was to be no back-to-back victories for stablemate Protektorat in the feature Betfair Chase after the eight-year-old finished last of the four runners in the Grade One event.
Turn to page 38 for more racing.