Dan Skelton looks set for another strong season as his yard seems to improve every year.
Skelton has made a solid start in the early stages of the 2021/22 campaign. As always, a lot will depend on who wins the big races at the major festivals this season as the Trainers’ Championship in Jump racing is decided on prize money. Much as we’d like to play a part during the frequent summer fixtures at Stratford, it’s more often that our early spring fixtures play a role in the closing stages of any championship bid.
With Champion Jockey Harry Skelton riding so well, the brothers may be in line for their best season yet on the track. Even if you weren’t able to attend this Spring, Skelton jnr was in blistering form as his elder brother helped him to a first Jockeys’ Championship with several doubles and trebles at Stratford in a blazing run of April form.
Strong Team Which Can Have Success At Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest meeting of the year in National Hunt racing. Although that comes at the end of the season, Skelton will already be thinking about which races his horses will run in, such is the impact of the Festival on the thinking of the elite of trainers.
Third Time Lucki last weekend made a winning start over fences at Cheltenham and he is likely to return to the same course for the Arkle. The novice chaser is 14/1 in the bet on horse racing ante-post market for the race at the Festival, although a lot of contenders haven’t yet been seen.
Skelton enjoyed four Grade One victories last season and one of those came with My Drogo in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. The six-year-old was unbeaten over hurdles last year. He is now set to embark on a novice chase campaign. The horse is amongst the market leaders for all the novice chases next March.
Queen Mother Champion Chase runner-up Nube Negra looks set to tackle the leading 2m races this season. The Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown and the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton both carry decent prize money ahead of his shot at the leading 2m chase contest at the Festival.
Henderson and Nicholls Likely To Be Biggest Rivals Again
Skelton was able to split Henderson and Nicholls for the first time in his career next season but he will be fully aware of how strong both stables are. It could be one of the closest title races yet between the three trainers. There’s a certain irony in Nicholls’ one-time protégé pinching the title from his former teacher.
Nicholls won his 12th Trainers’ Championship last season. He had 172 winners, which was a career best for the Ditcheat trainer. Although he did not have a great Cheltenham Festival, he won the Tingle Creek and King George VI Chase.
Henderson, who is an eight-time winner of the Trainers’ Championship, won the Arkle last season, one of the highlights for the Seven Barrows man. With Gold Cup contender Chantry House in his stable, he will once again be targeting some of the biggest 3m+ chases.
The Grand National at Aintree is a race Henderson has yet to win. The world’s most famous steeplechase will be one of his priorities this season. If he can land the Aintree feature, he will go a long way towards regaining his crown. Indeed, such is the scale of the prize fund for the National that it puts almost any of the top five contenders into the fray.
Hopefully, we will see lots of runners from Skelton, Nicholls and Henderson at Stratford from next March. It is set to be a fascinating battle between these three leading exponents of their profession.