Dan Skelton: In the festive spirit *H&H VIP*

  • Horse & Hound is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. Learn more
  • We have had a routine couple of weeks, but some nice winners too. On Sunday, Late Night Lily won at Southwell. She’s a tough mare by Midnight Legend — a top British sire who died this year and also sired National Hunt favourites including Holmwood Legend and Midnight Chase. We were really happy with her and she’ll have a little break now.

    There’s been plenty of rain, which has been frustrating as we were hoping for decent ground in December. It rained all Friday night, which didn’t suit Mister Miyagi at Cheltenham. We’ll put him away for a while.

    There’s been some top racing recently. Douvan ran really well in a Grade Two at Cork on Sunday — it looks like he’s got the two-mile division sorted if that’s the route he goes.

    Cross-discipline training

    It was a magical day for The New One on Saturday at Cheltenham — a fantastic training performance to get him back winning after his problems. It showed that taking the brave man’s route can pay off as he was going novice chasing until Saturday.

    Nigel Twiston-Davies credited Olympic eventer Andrew Nicholson for helping to improve The New One’s jumping. 
Andrew has been working with Nigel’s horses for some time now — using techniques that work in eventing to help the racehorses. 
We have eventer Chris King riding for us and I’ve seen the benefits of cross-discipline training. It definitely helps horses jump better and they are generally more rideable. The gridwork helps with their balance and learning to adjust their stride; it also gets them using their shoulders.

    Time to support SPOTY

    The BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) will be voted for on Sunday (18 December). Everyone’s really revved for it with Dad in the running. When AP McCoy won in 2010 everyone got behind him, the racing world and the wider equestrian industry. I don’t think showjumping has supported it this year in the same way, but if everyone who watched the Olympics, goes to Olympia and reads Horse & Hound voted for him then he’d have a chance. We are so proud of him and what he has achieved, not only this summer but across his whole career. To be told you might never ride again and then win a gold medal is a fantastic achievement.

    The horseworld also has Sophie Christiansen up for it and it’s great to see equestrianism so well represented. 
It would be a great end to a brilliant year if Dad could get a trophy — to win would be incredible.

    A busy build-up

    We will be going up to Olympia on Friday, and then Ascot on Saturday ahead of SPOTY on Sunday — so it’s going to be busy. We have Willow’s Saviour running at Ascot in the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle [formerly the Ladbroke Hurdle]. He’s been magic for us and won the race in 2013, which was our first big-race winner. Bridget Andrews will ride him, while my brother Harry will ride Meet The Legend, so it will be an exciting day. We also have Shelford in the Long Walk Hurdle.

    We have a nice few days off over Christmas after that though, as there’s no racing for three days. Now we’ve had the staff lodge done, my wife Grace has been decorating that and getting in the festive spirit. Obviously the horses need attention every day but we’re looking forward to a little break and then there’ll be runners on Boxing Day to look forward to.

    Best wishes and a happy Christmas from everyone here at Lodge Hill.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 15 December 2016