In this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (out now, issue dated 31 October), National Hunt jockey Harry Skelton talks about why coming second isn’t an option in his competitive family — “It’s not allowed!” he says.
He also gave us an insight into which of the Lodge Hill horses, trained by his brother Dan, he’s most excited about riding this season — as well as the team’s quest to find the Big Star (pictured top) of the racing world.
Here, he shares his thoughts about five of the yard’s top horses he reckons could be finding their way to the winner’s enclosure in due course.
1. Roksana — seven-year-old bay mare by Dubai Destination, owned by Mrs Sarah Faulks, bred by John O’Leary
The stable star of last season took Harry on his second visit to the winner’s enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival in March — and gave the yard their first taste of Grade One success — when first past the post in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.
Harry says: “She was really progressive last year — her best run was actually probably finishing second in the Grade One hurdle at Aintree [in April] when she progressed from her Grade One win at the Festival and ran even better. She’s been doing really well at home.”
2. Beakstown — six-year-old bay gelding by Stowaway, owned by Bryan Drew, bred by Geoffrey Thompson
This giant of a horse, standing well over 17hh, won a point-to-point in Ireland before joining the Skelton yard, where he has been lightly raced but has racked up a brace of wins over hurdles, including breaking the track record when claiming victory in a Grade Two race at Warwick. The gelding finished second to the classy Sam Spinner in his debut over fences at Wetherby recently.
Harry says: “He’s a future chaser — we probably won’t see the best of him for a couple of years.”
3. Generation Text — four-year-old bay gelding by Getaway, owned by Highclere Racing
Has yet to race under rules but came to Britain after finishing second in a point-to-point in Ireland.
Harry says: “ We’ll start him in Bumpers then go from there.”
4. Maire Bainrae — seven-year-old bay mare by King’s Theatre, owned by the Hales family and Jon Diver, bred by Donhead Stud
She made a record price for a mare from the point-to-point field when sold out of Ireland for £320,000 as a five-year-old. She has remained unbeaten since the start of last year, including in her chasing debut at Stratford at the beginning of October, where she looked a very exciting proposition.
Harry says: “The Hales family have been great supporters and Maire Bainrae has won her last three races — she looks a very progressive mare.”
The National Hunt season is upon us, so here are some reasons why we’re getting excited...
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
5. Interconnected — five-year-old brown gelding by Network, owned by the Yates, bred by MJ Tuckey
Previously trained by Nicky Henderson, where he raced once over hurdles. Darren Yates paid a record-breaking £620,000 for the horse at Doncaster Sales in May and while Interconnected has yet to make his debut for the Skelton yard, it will surely be a race watched with great interest.
Harry says: “He cost a lot of money at the sales, but is very much a big baby so we’re talking long-term with him — we can see the bigger picture and it’s much further down the line, but he really seems a really nice one to look forward to.”
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday