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Dan Skelton celebrates 1000 winners as a trainer

Fri 19 Nov 2021

Dan Skelton celebrated his 1,000th success as a trainer as Faivoir triumphed in the Windsor Horse Rangers Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Ascot.

Skelton, who is famously the son of Olympic gold medal-winner showjumper Nick and brother to champion jockey Harry, brought up the landmark in less than 10 years, having only set up as a trainer in 2013.

Dan Skelton talks about future ambitions on Luck On Sunday last year - when the trainer was on the cusp of 800 winners

The Alcester-based handler spent nine years learning his trade with multiple champion Paul Nicholls before striking out on his own – and Skelton remembered his former boss notching the same milestone back in 2004.

He said: “It’s magic. I remember when I worked for Paul and he had his 1,000th winner, it was a bumper I think, at Folkestone. I texted him ‘well done boss’ and he said ‘don’t worry about this thousand, worry about the next thousand’ and I’m thinking the same thing.”

Skelton’s first headline victory came via Willow’s Saviour in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot and the trainer reflected on that as a real starting point, but admitted he had not felt the same kind of urgency as when he was chasing 200 winners for the campaign in 2018-19.

He said: “We’ve had some good successes here, our first big success was here with Willow’s Saviour and that’s a day we’ll all never forget.

“A thousand is a big number, (but) I was more determined and aggressive, and desperate if you like, to get 200 in that season three years ago. That was my big ambition and that was a lot more pressure than a thousand.”

Skelton recorded a total of 205 wins during that campaign, becoming just the second trainer after Martin Pipe to record a double century.

While his former mentor not yet achieved that feat – with his best total being 176 last term – Skelton is under no illusions as to the task in trying to wrestle away the trainers’ title from Nicholls.

 Dan Skelton worked for multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls for nine years (Photo: Focusonracing)
Dan Skelton worked for multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls for nine years (Photo: Focusonracing)

He added: “You’ve got to keep trying. I think Paul’s a nap (for the title), he’s got those horses at the top end and we’re still creating those. I still think he’s the one for the trainers’ title. If we get past Christmas and there’s not much in it or we get past Cheltenham and there’s not much in it, it could get a bit tight, but I’m not thinking about it at the moment.”

Harry Skelton is stable jockey at the brothers’ Warwickshire yard and had his own 1,000 winner last month.

He was aboard Faivoir at Ascot and paid tribute to his sibling’s dedication and leadership, as well as his forward-planning.

He said: “Dan’s a great leader and he’s got a good team behind him. We all work together, but ultimately he’s the one who trains them and this is a great testament to him. You have to have the dedication and drive and that’s what he’s got.

“He’s done so well with so many (horses) that it’s hard to just put your finger on one. It’s obvious for everyone to see that he can pick a race from a long way out, plan it and pull it off.

Faivoir himself was registering his second win in three starts so far this term, seeing off favourite Torn And Frayed by three-quarters of a length.

Dan Skelton added: “He’s a bit of a monkey, if you ran him left-handed and there was a horse running right he’d probably follow.

“He’s one of those horse, he doesn’t win by too far, the handicapper doesn’t ever fully catch up with him because of that because he’s always holding a fiver up his sleeve.

“He’s just a little winning machine, he’s easy to train.”

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