Cheltenham Festival contender: The Dan Skelton-trained Allmankind *H&H Plus*

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  • Uniting two showjumping families is leading Triumph Hurdle contender Allmankind, a talented tearaway whose energies are being channelled towards the winning post, writes Jennifer Donald

    Tim Gredley and his father, Bill, are well known as successful owner/breeders on the Flat, courtesy of the great stayer Big Orange and the Group One-winning Pretty Pollyanna. But, somewhat by accident, they have been thrust into the limelight as Cheltenham Festival contenders with their first jumping home-bred, Allmankind.

    This son of Sea The Moon has always shown remarkable talent, but a certain “bull-headedness” has proved a conundrum for his trainers. In his early career on the Flat when trained by Michael Bell, this one-time Derby prospect’s refusal to settle eventually became his downfall.


    The switch to jumping was something of an afterthought but, since joining the Dan Skelton team, Allmankind has found his forte and remains unbeaten after three relentless, front-running performances in which jockey Harry Skelton has barely seen a rival upsides.He won his hurdling debut at Warwick by 37 lengths and followed up eight days later at Cheltenham, where he pulled like a train for two miles in testing going and still stayed on stoutly up the hill. His hat-trick came with a gutsy victory in a Grade One at Chepstow in December, thus laying down his credentials as one of the leading fancies for Friday’s Gold Cup day opener, the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

    Among his key rivals are the Gary Moore-trained Goshen, Aspire Tower from Ireland and new favourite Solo, sent out by Paul Nicholls. The question has been asked whether the big occasion might get to Allmankind. His trainer says: “He could boil over at a one-man party. The FA Cup Final wouldn’t stress him any more than a one-man party.”

    The facts

    4yo bay gelding by Sea The Moon (GER) out of Wemyss Bay (Sadler’s Wells)
    Owners: Bill and Tim Gredley
    Trainer: Dan Skelton
    Jockey: Harry Skelton
    Breeder: Stetchworth and Middle Park Studs (the Gredley family)
    Prize money won: £71,243
    Biggest wins: 1m2f maiden stakes at Chelmsford (October 2018); 2m juvenile hurdle at Warwick (November 2019); Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham (November 2019) and Grade One Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow (December 2019).
    Current odds for JCB Triumph Hurdle: 9/2

    Co-owner and breeder Tim Gredley says…

    “Even as a foal, out in the field with the rest of the gang he was always out in front. ‘Never sell that one,’ my father would say — we knew he was special.

    “He has plenty of stamina in his pedigree and as a two-year-old we had hopes for him as a Derby horse. He always showed ability but he also had this habit of running away and it was happening more and more. When he won his maiden at Chelmsford, his jockey Silvestre De Sousa said that to be a top Flat horse he would need to learn to settle, but he just did the same old routine as a three-year-old.

    “I’ve always had in my mind to send a horse to the Skeltons as I’ve known Nick for ages through showjumping, so when this situation wasn’t resolving itself, I rang Dan. Our idea was that sending him over the jumps might help him concentrate and slow him down a bit.

    “We sent him in July and I jokingly said, ‘The next time I want to see you is at Cheltenham,’ but I didn’t hear a lot for a while — I think they were scratching their heads a bit. But he won his first race by more than 30 lengths and never came off the bridle. Now, you almost want him to be keen in his races because that’s his ‘thing’.

    “I’m competing on the Sunshine Tour but I’m definitely taking Festival week off! This time last year we thought we’d end up at Epsom so at the moment we’re just enjoying this new experience with Dan and Harry — but if we’re breeding horses with the profile to go on and do some jumping, then it would be great to send Dan a few more.”

    Jockey Harry Skelton says…

    “He’s settled a hell of a lot — he was a bit wild when he arrived. At the races, he’s very professional and he’s very relaxed in the paddock beforehand — he has a good head on him. But as soon as the tape goes up, he knows his business and just runs along.

    “His jumping has got better and he has the hang of it now — he was a bit hairy to sit on to start with. He still likes to get on with things, but we’ve learned to just let him roll along, do his own thing and not interfere too much.

    “But the amazing thing about him is he’s a good stayer as well — about two furlongs out, he just picks up and goes again. You can feel his massive engine and it’s a great feeling.”

    Trainer Dan Skelton says…

    “Tim Gredley told me that Newmarket was winding Allmankind up and sending him here may come to nothing but he was a really good horse if we could get him to settle. I noticed he was making a noise — his wind was a bit of an issue — and maybe that had been stressing him out. For about a fortnight [after a wind op] he was really good, then suddenly he was really keen again. I told Tim it could still be a waste of time but let’s just get stuck in.

    “He is just so one-dimensional — he gets on with things and it doesn’t matter what’s in his way. He works with the other horses, but you’d only ask him to go upsides once in a blue moon because you don’t need to encourage him — he’s naturally fit, so you encourage him to do less, not more. There’s a definite buzz about him in the yard, he’s looking very good.”

    His lass Hollie Rooney says…

    “I’ve looked after ‘Old Man’, as I call him, since he arrived at Lodge Hill and he couldn’t be more opposite in the stable — he’s a laid-back little horse. He does like to stick to his routine though — he’d stand under the heat lamps all afternoon if he could, with not a bother on him, but tie him up somewhere else and he wants to be back in ‘his spot’.

    “He goes out for picks of grass and on the walker twice a day and he’s good as gold to muck out and brush. He is greedy though — he’ll charge out the door to get his hay bucket! But as soon as you tack him up, he goes into speedy mode for our conditional jockey, William Marshall, who rides him every day.

    “Allmankind was my first Cheltenham winner, so leading him in was a heart-racing moment. I can’t watch his races though — I keep thinking he can’t keep going, but he does. I’m very lucky to look after him.”

    Ref Horse & Hound; 5 March 2020