Dan Skelton: ‘It’s like a script; it doesn’t sound like real life’ *H&H VIP*

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  • Many Clouds’ tragic win at Cheltenham dominated the past weekend. We all know it’s part of the sport, but you don’t expect 
to see such a gut-wrenching display of bravery and then for that to happen to a Grand National hero. Nothing prepares you for that.

    The horse tried unbelievably hard, he always has, to the extent that he put his life on the line, and it was taken when winning the Cotswold Chase.

    Racing has rallied around trainer Oliver Sherwood and his team. Many Clouds was 
a horse of 
a lifetime and it would have been wonderful for him to have retired to the field at his owner Trevor Hemmings’. But he spent the final day of his life doing what he loved.

    He’ll be remembered for his Grand National win, but he’ll be equally remembered — if not more so — for that race on Saturday.

    Thistlecrack looked unbeatable, and then you have the Grand National winner serving it up to the young pretender, defeating him and sadly losing his life in the process. It’s like a script; it doesn’t sound like real life.

    Some horses just want to do their best. Racehorses are born and bred to race and he wanted to win.

    Standout performances

    Thistlecrack still deserves to be favourite for the Gold Cup. He was ridden differently and I felt Tom Scudamore gave him a clever ride with experience in mind. However, the horse will have to return to his “A” game for March, and hopefully he won’t feel the effects of a hard race. I’m sure his team will have him tip-top for the big day. He is the best horse out there by some margin, based on his King George win.

    Festival beckons

    We’ve been a bit quiet at the yard as we’ve had the flu vaccinations done. We won’t do it again at this time of year. The number of trainers doing it in winter is falling, and it’s obvious why. It does still niggle in my mind, though, that horses feel the benefit a month later, as history has shown.

    We’ve had a moderate run of things due to it, however, and it will be good to get out the other side. We know what this drop in form is caused by and hopefully we’ll sneak another winner in soon.

    Chrome disappointment

    The retirement of 2016 Dubai World Cup winner and twice US horse of the year California Chrome at the weekend shows the ebbs and flows of racing, too.

    It’s hard to go out that way, retiring after a poor run, finishing ninth in the Pegasus World Cup in Florida, which was a shame after so many amazing achievements.

    He’ll go to stud now, but despite this final run he’ll be remembered as a great.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 2 February 2016