Skelton 'chuffed to bits' after reaching four-figure British milestone
Another day, another landmark. Having sent out the 1,000th winner of his career worldwide last week, Dan Skelton reached four figures in Britain alone when Greatest Star took the novice hurdle.
The trainer was presented with a bottle of champagne to mark his achievement after the 2-1 shot won by a length and three-quarters under Harry Skelton.
But Dan Skelton was quick to share the credit and said: "It's my name on the licence but everyone does all the work to put us up there. I'm just chuffed to bits that we have kept the ball rolling."
Greatest Star was fitted with a tongue-strap after finishing fourth on his hurdling debut at Hereford and his trainer said: "He got super keen and very fresh because he hadn't had a run for a long time and didn't really give himself much chance in the race.
"The form of that race is quite good and he stepped forward. Sometimes a tongue-strap can back them off a bit and he wasn't keen early today; he gave himself a better chance to finish."
Turning over a new leaf
You know you are having a really good season when even the disappointing horses start winning races.
Martin Keighley is in fine form and he moved to within four of his best total – with five months of the season still to go – with a double teed up when the underachieving Mozzaro came good in the 2m4½f handicap chase.
"He's been frustrating," the trainer said. "He showed plenty of ability in his bumpers and then has been disappointing over hurdles, apart from his one second here.
"So we thought we'd come back here over fences – and he was a different horse today. He didn't really jump his hurdles great, he was never very fluent, but the fences have made a man of him. He battled really well. He's been a backward sort, so you'd hope he'll keep improving."
Keighley and jockey James Best followed up with Ten Past Midnight, who completed a hat-trick in the novice handicap hurdle, in which Jonathan Burke was unhurt when Bembridge crashed through the wing of the fifth flight.
The yard's 30 winners in 2021-22 include Back On The Lash in the cross-country chase at Cheltenham and Keighley said: "He's come out of that really well and he'll go back there in December. So will Talkischeap. He was unlucky because he was enjoying it when he unseated Tom Bellamy."
Having come within a neck of a breakthrough win at Fontwell 18 days earlier, Middleham Park Racing's Lelantos got off the mark in the 3m½f hurdle.
Racing manager Tom Palin said: "I was a little bit gutted last time because I thought we'd found a good opportunity for him. But as it turned out, the winner of our race went in again very easily on Saturday, so it was a case of trying to find the right race before the handicapper dared reassess us.
"We found this and good ground is key to him. He's done it the wrong way for him. He'd have preferred a much more strongly run race and it turned into a sprint."
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