Dan Skelton, son of Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Nick Skelton, is to set up as a racehorse trainer.
Dan is assistant to champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls in Somerset and has been based there for the past nine years
And the 27-year-old now plans to set out on his own and will have his own yard from May, at his father Nick’s Warwickshire base.
“It’s great, Dad will be there when I need him — and probably when I don’t need him too,” he told H&H. “Although his main focus is on Rio for 2016 — he has his heart and mind set on it— he will be a great help and I value his opinion. And of course there’s no one better to help with jumping.”
As part of the new venture the Skeltons are building a stable block for 37 horses and six and a half furlong all-weather gallop, which will be completed in May. There’ll also be schooling and owners’ facilities at the Lodge Hill site, which is next door to Nick’s main yard near Alcester.
Dan will remain at Paul’s Ditcheat yard until the end of the season, in April, before embarking on a course to gain his trainer’s licence. He aims to be ready to start training at the start of the next National Hunt season.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The planning permission for the gallops came sooner than we expected so now is the time to crack on,” he added.
“It’s all very fluid at the moment, I’m not expecting to fill the yard, but I’d need 10 horses in the first season to make it financially viable. Paul had eight horses when he set up 21 years ago, and now look at him. I’m not shy of hard work and will put everthing into it. We will concentrate on getting the horses in peak fitness and jumping well, we just need to find some quality horses.
“I’m not approaching owners or getting horses until May, my main focus now is on Ditcheat and working with Paul.”
And Dan’s younger brother Harry, who is a National Hunt jockey, will also be a valuable member of the new team.
“He’s a great jockey,” said Dan. “I have confidence in him and trust him implicitly. We’ll be working closely together and I know he will give me accurate feedback on horses.”
Tom Jonason, Nicholls’ pupil assistant trainer, will replace Dan at Ditcheat next season.