Dan Skelton eyes becoming second jumps trainer to saddle 200 seasonal winners
Cheltenham might be over but one trainer still has a big aim before the jumps season ends in just under six weeks' time on April 27.
Dan Skelton admits he needs binoculars to see that target but his team is going all out to reach the magical 200-winner mark for the season, which has been achieved in Britain only by legendary 15-time champion trainer Martin Pipe.
After a winner at Southwell on Monday, Skelton became the joint-second most successful trainer in terms of winners in a British jumps season.
After two Cheltenham Festival successes courtesy of Roksana (Mares' Hurdle) and Ch'Tibello (County Hurdle) and an 11-winner haul in the last fortnight, Skelton has matched former boss Paul Nicholls’s best seasonal score of 171.
Only Pipe has amassed more winners in a British season, holding the top ten totals, including eight tallies in the 200s and record of 243. Both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott surpassed 200 in Ireland last season.
On the prospect of reaching 200, Skelton said: "When we got to the earliest 100 winners in a season we thought it might be possible, but then I put it out of my mind.
"We’re going to give it a whirl, knowing we need five winners a week to get there, but you need binoculars to see it!"
Skelton, who does not have any runners on Tuesday but a host of entries for the rest of the week, can take hope from his stats two years ago, when he also had a memorable March with 17 winners, and topped it with 23 winners in April.
Skelton added: "We know it's a tough time with some big days of racing when it's hard to get the winners – at the Aintree festival, at Ayr and at the final meeting at Sandown.
"It’s been an amazing season with a 20 per cent strike-rate and the staff have been brilliant. It’s been a tremendous team effort and if we end up on 199 we can blame the couple of weeks of bad weather and the equine flu shutdown!"
Whatever the outcome Skelton, along with brother Harry, who has ridden 146 of the stable's winners this season, will be continuing a meteoric rise since joining forces in the family venture after starting out as assistant to Nicholls.
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