Harry Skelton vs Brian Hughes

Good Morning!

Welcome to another post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is a quick look back at one of the most exciting Champion Jockey season’s we have had in a very long time, so with just one week to go, I wanted to briefly have a look at the season so far.

The Jumps Jockey Championship started on July 1st 2020 and ends next Saturday on April 24th 2021 and right now it’s probably the closest it’s been in my lifetime with Harry Skelton and Brian Hughes fighting it out neck and neck for the last few weeks and it’s been a pretty exciting situation to watch, I have no idea who will win but it’s been great for racing fans to see it so close for a change.

I won’t go through every single win that both Harry and Brian have had this season, I think I’d be here all year, so I have had a look at some of the bigger wins they have both had and I think we should just jump right in.

So, first up I’m going to start with Harry Skelton and the bet365 Hurdle Grade 2 (Registered As The West Yorkshire Hurdle) at Wetherby on October 31st 2020 where Harry won on Roksana as the 13/8 favourite by 8 and 1/2 lengths for brother Dan Skelton.

Two weeks later on November 14th 2020 Harry won the Karndean Designflorring Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed Race) (GBB Race) on Elle Est Belle (16/5) at Cheltenham for brother Dan Skelton. The race was (potentially controversially) declared a deadheat with joint winner Ishkhara Lady (11/2) for Sean Bowen and Harry Fry.

One week later on November 21st 2020 Brian Hughes won the Betfair Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase (Class 2) at Haydock on Snow Leopardess (9/2J) for Charlie Longsdon by 1/2 length to Commodore.

Eight days later on November 29th 2020, Brian then won the Houghton Mares’ Chase (Listed Race) (GBB Race) at Carlisle on My Old Gold (4/1) for Nicky Richards, winning by 1 and 1/2 lengths to Chilli Filli.

We then move forward to December 5th where we had a rather successful day for both jockeys with Brian Hughes heading to Aintree and Harry Skelton heading to Sandown. First of we had Harry Skelton win the 1:50, the Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) on Allmankind (2/1F) beating Hitman (11/4) by 2 and 1/2 lengths for brother Dan Skelton. He then won the 2:25 – Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) (GBB Race) on Politologue (11/8F) for Paul Nicholls beating stable mate Greaneteen (5/2) for Harry Cobden by 7 lengths.

15 minutes later at 2:40, Brian Hughes then wins the William Hill Many Clouds Chase (Grade 2) with Lake View Lad (16/1) for Nick Alexander, beating Santini (13/8F) by 1 length.

Moving forward a couple of weeks and on December 18th, Harry Skelton wins the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) at Ascot on My Drogo (9/1) beating 2/1 favourite Llandinabo Lad by 2 and 3/4 lengths, again for Dan Skelton.

The following day on December 19th, Brian Hughes then wins the Betfair Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (Class 2) on Sam’s Adventure (14/1) for Brian Ellison, beating Sojourn the 11/4 joint favourite by 4 lengths.

One week later on boxing day 2020, Harry then wins the Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) at Kempton on Shan Blue (7/4F) for Dan Skelton, beating The Big Breakaway (16/5). Following that up with another win at Kempton the following day December 27th when he won the Ladbrokes Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2) on Nube Negra (20/1) for Dan Skelton, beating Evens favourite Altior by 3 and 1/2 lengths.

Moving into 2021, we have Harry Skelton kicking us off on January 23rd when he won the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 2) at Ascot on Roksana (8/15F) for Dan Skelton, beating Magic Of Light (9/2) by 8 lengths.

On February 7th Brian Hughes headed to Musselburgh where he won the bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle (Listed Race) on Fiveandtwenty (6/4F) for Donald McCain beating Historic Heart (5/1) by 4 lengths.

Harry Skelton then had a busy two days when he won the Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle (Listed Race) at Exeter on Wilde About Oscar (16/5) for Dan Skelton on the 14th of February beating Evens favourite The Glancing Queen by 7 and 1/2 lengths. Followed up by 2 quick wins at Warwick the following day on February 15th when winning the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) on Allmankind (4/7F) for Dan Skelton, beating eventual Cheltenham Festival winner Sky Pirate (3/1) by 14 lengths. Followed by the next race on the card, the St Marys Land Warwick Mares’ Hurdle (Listed Race) on Molly Ollys Wishes (7/2) for Dan Skelton, actually beating Brian Hughes in second place on the Evens favourite Paul’s Saga by 15 lengths.

On February 20th 2021, Harry then won the “My Oddsboost” on Betfair Swinley Chase (Listed Race) at Ascot on Captain Chaos (10/1) for Dan Skelton, by a head to Regal Encore (12/1).

The following day, Brian Hughes headed to Market Rasen where he won the Ballymore Sidney Banks Novices’ Hurdle (Listed Race) on Minella Drama (13/8F) for Donald McCain, beating Stoner’s Choice (9/4) by 3 lengths.

Swiftly moving into March, on the 6th Harry Skelton won the bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) at Kelso on My Drogo (2/1F) for Dan Skelton beating Do Your Job (10/1) by 9 and 1/2 lengths. One week later on the 13th of March, Harry then won the Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) at Sandown on Langer Dan (5/1) for Dan Skelton beating Miss Heritage (8/1) by 4 and 1/2 lengths.

We then move into April and the final month for both jockey’s to get the wins on the board ready to be crowned Champion Jockey. We start off on April 8th when Harry Skelton won the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) at Aintree on Protektorat (17/2) for Dan Skelton, beating The Shunter (7/2) by 3 and 3/4 lengths. Followed up on the 10th of April when winning the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) on 5/4 favourite My Drogo, again beating Brian Hughes on the second placed Minella Drama (12/1) by 9 and 1/2 lengths.

Also want to include here that Harry Skelton finished 6th in the Grand National on Blaklion (50/1) on the 10th of April for brother Dan Skelton, making them the first British trained horse to cross the line.

We then head into the April meeting at Cheltenham where both jockey’s had a pretty successful time. On April 14th, Harry Skelton won the 1:30 Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Hurdle (Class 2) on 4/6 favourite Faivoir for Dan Skelton, winning by 2 and 3/4 lengths to Witness Protection (8/1). Harry then won the 2:40 Kingston Stud Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) on 7/2 joint favourite Proschema for Dan Skelton, winning by 6 and 1/2 length to Winds of Fire (9/1). Moving on to the 4:25 Weatherite Handicap Chase (Class 2) where Brian Hughes pulled one back when winning on Domaine De L’Isle (6/1) for Sean Curran, beating Coo Star Sivola (5/1) by 1 and 1/2 lengths.

The following day on April 15th, Brian Hughes claws another one back when winning the Citipost Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) on Bannixtown Glory (9/1) for Donald McCain, beating Harry Skelton on the 5/2 favourite Eglantine Du Seuil by 1 and 3/4 lengths.

Yesterday both Brian and Harry headed to Ayr for the Scottish Grand National meeting and in doing so, Harry Skelton has now pulled ahead after winning the first race on Stepney Causeway (4/9F) for Dan Skelton, beating Brian on Mrs Hyde (15/8) by 19 lengths and also the last race on I’d Better Go Now (11/2J), again for Dan Skelton, beating Manetti (33/1) by 3/4 of a length.

So, all in all we start today with Harry Skelton on 143 and Brian Hughes on 139 with just 8 days of racing left. It’s still very very close and either could win so I am very excited to see how this final week goes. Both have been going for it and picking up as many spare rides as possible so I think this last week could be very interesting.


Personally, I would love to see Harry Skelton win the Jockey Championship for a couple of reasons. He is based very close to where I live, so it would be nice to see a local jockey win, but also because the majority of Harry’s rides have came from his brother Dan Skelton and as far as I’m aware (correct me if I’m wrong), the last time a jockey won the Jockey Championship with the majority of their rides coming from one stable was when AP McCoy won it whilst riding for Martin Pipe, so for me that is a huge achievement. I won’t take anything away from Brian Hughes, but I feel like he has the opportunity to ride a lot more horses for a lot more trainers and personally, I think if Harry Skelton had the opportunity to ride as many horses as Brian Hughes has then he would be a mile ahead in the title race. The fact that Brian has had over 200 more rides than Harry and Harry has still been fighting it out at the top shows just how incredible Harry’s season has been. Overall, it’s been a huge season for the Skelton team and I think that Harry winning the Champion Jockey title would just be the best way to end it. Again, I want to reiterate I am not taking anything away from Brian Hughes and if he wins it then he deserves it, but for me, I would just love to see Harry Skelton do it.

I have found looking back over this season actually really interesting and I hope everyone else has found it interesting to read too. If there are any similar posts like this you would like to see me do for particular jockeys, trainers, owners, horses etc then please do let me know over on Twitter (https://twitter.com/zoelouisesmithx) and I will try my best to have a look into it because I find researching these posts so interesting and from my viewing figures for similar posts like this, they have seemed to be pretty popular.

I actually have an extra post coming tomorrow morning at 11am where I look into the history of the Scottish Grand National ahead of tomorrow afternoons renewal, including some winning trends, facts and figures which may help you pick your winner, so keep your eyes out for that one! See you then!

An Interview with Danny Mcmenamin

Danny Mcmenamin

Hiya guys!

Today I am bringing to you an interview with conditional jockey Danny Mcmenamin, he is a jockey that is coming through the ranks and is definitely one to watch out for in the future. I hope you enjoy!

—–

Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?

Danny: Winning the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham is surely a day I will never forget. The amount of times I have dreamt of that in my head and for it to happen was the best day in my life. Cheltenham is a special place, festival or not it is the home of racing.

Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past of present, what horse would you choose?

Danny: Kauto Star, he’s a horse which I fell in love with when I was growing up. His ability was freak like, the whole racing community loved him. He was a proper horse.

Me: What are your opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?

Danny: My opinion on the whip is that it needs to stay for jockeys and other horses safety. There has been a massive improvement over the years with new rules and newly designed whips and I am sure things will improve further.

Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?

Danny: To be honest I’m very lucky with my weight as I’m small, so I get to eat pretty much what I wish to eat. Obviously I just don’t eat junk food, all my meals are homemade and healthy, thanks to my girlfriend.

Me: What would you say to anyone who thinks racing is animal cruelty?

Danny: Everyone has their right to an opinion, but horses aren’t forced to race, they do it because they enjoy it. It’s in their nature to compete. The horses in racing get extremely looked after.

Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?

Danny: When I get some time to myself, which isn’t often, I like to play football and taking the dogs on a walk, which both are a good way to maintain fitness. I’m pretty much into anything outdoors.

Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?

Danny: The person I look up to would be Brian Hughes. The way he rides is admirable, everything just looks smooth. He’s always in the right place at the right time in races. He has helped me a lot since I started out and I have a huge amount of respect for him.

Me: What is one race you’d love to win?

Danny: The one race I would love to win would be the Grand National. It has always been a dream of mine. Toby Dobbin, who’s from the same town in Northern Ireland as me and is a family friend, won it, so it would be great to win it.

Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming years?

Danny: My overall goal would be just to try and ride as many winners as I can and to keep improving and learning over the years.

Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?

Danny: My horse to watch over the next year or two would be Marown trained by my boss Nicky Richards. He is currently unbeaten in 3 starts, one in a bumper and two over hurdles. He’s a big, strong type, proper chasing type. In time he can only improve from what he has done now. Will be exciting to see what the future holds for him.

Me: What is your favourite race course to ride at and why?

Danny: My favourite course, I have to be honest, but one would be Carlisle because, one, it’s only 20 minutes away which helps, but also it takes getting used to, you have to be in the right place at the right time around there. You need a horse which can travel and if you go too soon, you’ll never get home, but if you leave it too late, it’s hard to make ground up that hill. Timing and jumping is everything around there.

Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?

Danny: My advice to anyone who has a passion for something, whether it’s sport or other things, is to never stop chasing that passion, no matter if people put you down, people will always doubt you, but when you prove them wrong it will all be worth it. If you believe in it, you will achieve it, it’s just some hard work, dedication and self belief, that’s all that’s needed.

—–

Firstly I want to say a massive thank you to Danny for taking the time to talk to me. I think he is definitely someone to keep an eye on, he is very knowledgeable in the sport and always open to learn more, which is always a good thing. I, for one, can’t wait to watch his progress!

Thank you for reading. I will see you all next Saturday at 11am for An Interview with Phillip Dennis.