Dan Skelton: A brief pause… then it’s all go again *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    It has been a great year and we’re feeling a bit of relief that the season has now finished. The horses have been consistent throughout the season, despite a downturn in January due to flu vaccinations, however at least we knew what that was.

    We finished the campaign on 118 winners — more than last year — so I was very pleased. We had set our sights on 100 winners, so to surpass that was really great. Once we had got to that tally, we didn’t want to put any more pressure on the horses, so eased back a bit to keep them fresh for the summer.

    There was a great sense of achievement when we reached 100 and my brother Harry also rode his 100th winner.

    We just hope to improve again next year; we’ve had consistently better results for four years since we set up now so we’re making it difficult. We’ve grown and improved and we have the horses to do even better again — so it’s all eyes on next season now.

    Cross-discipline benefits

    Jockey Robbie Power has had an amazing few weeks. To win the Gold Cup, the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National is an impressive feat.

    He’s a good friend of the family, too. He’s showjumped a lot with us; his family is steeped in horse sport and showjumping, with his sister Elizabeth being an eventer and, of course, his dad Con Power was a former top showjumper.

    Let’s not forget Robbie also won the Hickstead Speed Derby a couple of years back. To be winning all those races and competitions shows what an excellent and versatile rider he is. He’s a professional guy and extremely talented.

    Another man we are all proud of is, once again, my dad Nick, who collected his CBE at Buckingham Palace last month.

    Everyone deserves a break

    The standout for me from the weekend was Altior. He was extremely impressive but there’s a long way to go before he’ll be rivalling Sprinter Sacre’s greatness. He looks like he could get even better though — he’s not been having hard races all the time, which is a big necessity for longevity.

    I do think there should be a break between seasons. We finished on Saturday and by Sunday we’re back to zero and starting again.

    When I first got my licence I was fully in agreement with this — what was the point in hanging around? But now I think everyone deserves a short rest after a long, hard season. It’s not as if you can take a break if you need it — there are races to be won and if you’re not there then someone else is winning instead of you.

    It’s now time for us to prep for the next season — there’ll be a lot of pressure washing, painting and spring cleaning going on. We’ll also look to buy some new horses, then it’s all go once again.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 4 May 2017