October 22nd, 2016

In the paddock with Warwickshire’s Dan Skelton

WARWICKSHIRE’s Dan Skelton is one of the country’s brightest young National Hunt trainers and ambassador of Warwick Racecourse.

With Warwick’s season having drawn to a close, Dan writes his last Observer column before returning in September when its new calendar starts.

“The season may be over at Warwick Racecourse, but the new campaign is already underway for us.

“Although the yard is quieter with many of the horses enjoying a break, those who have stayed in training to be campaigned throughout the summer months are being kept busy.

“The new season has started brilliantly with the horses in flying form, and we have already notched up an impressive tally of winners including a brilliant double at Warwick’s evening meeting in early May.

“Benissimo, having his first start since New Year’s Day, won the opener on the card by ten lengths and we were delighted to see Virgilio follow up that success on his first run since joining the team by finishing clear by 12 lengths. “Thinger Licht also deserves a mention when finishing second later on in the evening, denied by just a length. All in all, not a bad day’s work and a fantastic evening!

“Unfortunately, we came away from Ladies Day at Warwick, last week’s final meeting of the season, without a winner despite Benissimo being favourite to repeat that glory from earlier in the month. But we will certainly be back to try again after the summer break!

“As I said, the last couple of weeks have seen many of our horses go out to grass for a well-earned summer holiday and that means we can now get excited about making plans for the coming season.

“We’ve also been busy looking for potential stars for the future, with new horses arriving from France and Ireland as well as some lovely new recruits from home turf.

“It’s going to be hard to beat last season, but we’re as hungry as ever to produce even more winners. As I write this, we’re already at 11 winners for the 2015-16 season so it couldn’t have got off to a better start.

“I’m absolutely delighted with how the horses performed during the last campaign, right from start to finish. It’s hard to imagine that only two years ago there were only seven horses in the yard! And now we have around 80 and counting!

“The big highlight of the last year was celebrating our first win at Grade 2 level with Three Musketeers and it was great to be able to achieve that at Warwick, which was also our first win there and coincided with me being made ambassador. Quite a weekend!

“Three Musketeers is certainly one to look forward to for the forthcoming season. We’ve been working hard to build up a great team of young horses for the new campaign with impressive Warwick bumper winner Walking In The Air another who looks an exciting prospect.

“For Warwick and for me, it’s been a momentous year and I’m looking forward to us both going on from strength-to-strength – Warwick in its second season as an all-jumps track and me in my third season as a National Hunt trainer. The future looks bright.”