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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Skelton's title dream 'nigh-on impossible' despite flying start

Harry Skelton: closing in on 50 winners for the season after dream start
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Harry Skelton may have set his sights on one day becoming champion jockey, but despite heading into the nine-day break for jump racing just two winners behind current champ Richard Johnson he believes winning the title this season is "nigh-on impossible". 

At the same stage 12 months ago Skelton had made a solid start to the season with 18 winners, but with his older brother and trainer Dan making a sparkling start to the 2017-18 campaign, he sits second in the standings with 47 winners.   

For good measure, he has ridden at an impressive 33 per cent strike-rate, with his 145 rides so far amassing more that £300,000 in prize-money.

“The horses have been in flying form and it’s a credit to everyone at home,” said Skelton.

“Dan has been placing them in the right races and hopefully after the break we can carry it on.

“Stratford and Worcester are very local and it made sense to have plenty in for the summer and the horses who appreciate the better ground stayed in training.”

Despite Skelton’s breakthrough, bookmakers make Johnson the odds-on favourite to win a third consecutive title this season, his odds ranging from 1-3 to 1-6, while Skelton's odds vary from 8-1 with William Hill to 25-1 with BoyleSports.

A title challenge this season has crossed Skelton’s mind but, with Johnson amassing close to double the rides he did last season, he recognises an injury-free Johnson is likely to be untouchable again.

Richard Johnson: bidding for a third consecutive championship this season

“I’m realistic,” said the jockey. “Dicky had nearly 500 rides more than me last season and had 189 winners. I’ve done my maths and had a look but think it’s nigh-on impossible.

"It’s nice to be in touch and you never know, but it’s very unlikely it will be happening this season.

“It’s my ambition to be champion jockey one day and Dan’s ambition to be champion trainer. Hopefully we’ll get there.”

Skelton, who will be staying close to home during his break, said the stable’s team for the winter is gearing up nicely, with plenty to look forward to and hopefully a Grade 1 winner lurking in the pack. 

He added: “They all look like swans at the moment but when the wraps come off we’ll find out.

"I’m really looking forward to Captain Forez and there are a lot of nice bumper horses going novice hurdling. Cause Toujours is one of those I’m really excited about. There’s a nice team and hopefully they can hold the fort in the winter.”

Captain Forez (left) pictured finishing behind Finian's Oscar at Aintree

Johnson, who signed off for the break with a winner at Market Rasen on Sunday, said: "Its not just Harry, there are plenty of others who could beat me like Aidan [Coleman], Sam [Twiston-Davies] or Noel [Fehily].

"I'll just keep trying and giving it my best shot, and fingers crossed avoid injuries. There's a long way to go."

Jump racing in Britain resumes at Bangor and Newton Abbot on Wednesday August 16.

How they stand

Richard Johnson 49 wins (best price 1-3)
Harry Skelton 47 (25-1)
Aidan Coleman 38 (8-1)
Sam Twiston-Davies 34 (7-1)
Noel Fehily 29 (25-1)
Brian Hughes 22 (20-1)

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It’s my ambition to be champion jockey one day and Dan’s ambition to be champion trainer and hopefully we’ll get there
E.W. Terms
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