Dan Skelton

    Dan Skelton continued his quick ascent up the training ranks in 2015/16 by winning his largest amount of prize money, training his highest number of winners and saddling his first Cheltenham Festival victor. Here, the Warwickshire trainer discusses his progressive string which could lead him to further glories.
  • Wednesday 12 October 2016
  • Stable Tours

Dan Skelton celebrated a first Cheltenham Festival winner when Superb Story landed the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle last in March and that well-named individual more than reflects the rapid rise through the ranks of his young trainer.

Now his fourth season with a trainer’s licence, Skelton has already 24 winners and over £232,000 in prize money and is within in touching distance of beating his first season score in 2013/2014 when 27 came his way.

That was increased to 73 in 2014/2015 but the walls came tumbling down last season when 104 winners and over £1,255,000 in prize money was netted on the domestic front.

Superb Story is one of an elite team of hurdlers being readied to grace the jumping scene once more and Virgilio set out his stalls as very much a novice chaser to follower when scoring impressively at Newton Abbot last week.

Skelton has plenty of upwardly-mobile ammunition to call on in the coming months and kindly guided Tony Elves of attheraces.com through some of his leading prospects.

Horse profiles

Aintree My Dream (FR)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Saint Des Saints - Pretty Melodie (Lesotho)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Perth, 26 Apr 2017 15:05
  • Result: 4/5, led, driven and headed approaching 2 out, ridden and no impresion with front pair between last 2, lost modest 3rd flat
  • View full form

Winner of an Irish point-to-point and made a successful debut for the stable in a bumper at Warwick in April.

“He goes novice hurdling and probably will want two and a half miles and soft ground. We will be waiting for plenty of rain before we get him out but he won his bumper very well at Warwick and I do like him.”

Video Form
11 Mar 2017:
19 Feb 2017:


Runner-up, beaten three quarters of a length, to Clondaw Cracker in a Warwick bumper in April.

“He ran well at Warwick in a bumper and we like him. He is going to start at two miles over hurdles but he will definitely end up being a stayer. He’s a chaser as well and is a lovely, lovely horse.”

Video Form
1 Apr 2017:
28 Jan 2017:
20 Dec 2016:

Bertimont (FR)

Returning from a season off but rated 151 over hurdles at his best and finished second, beaten only two and a quarter lengths, to The New One in the Grade 2 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock (2m) in January 2015.

“He is back after missing a year but he’s in good form at home and we will probably start on the handicap hurdle route and we will see where we get to with him. He is still only young and seems as good as ever. He was a great horse for us a couple of seasons ago and, hopefully, can pick up some decent races.”

Video Form
21 Feb 2017:
5 Feb 2017:
11 Oct 2014:

Betameche (FR)

  • 6-y-o; grey gelding
  • Breeding: Kapgarde - Kaldona (Kaldoun)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Wetherby, 1 Apr 2016 17:35
  • Result: Won/7, held up in touch, smooth headway on outside over 3f out, led 1f out, ridden clear final furlong, stayed on well
  • View full form

Winner of a bumper at Newcastle in December for Nicky Richards and defied a penalty in a similar event for Skelton at Wetherby in April.

“He is a really nice young horse and he, again, wants really soft ground so he won’t be out until it has rained plenty. We will start him over two miles and I think one day he will get further.”

Video Form
10 Dec 2015:

Blue Heron (IRE)

155-rated hurdler at his best and coming back from a year off. Scored by six lengths from Irving in the Grade 2 Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February 2015.

“He is back from a year off and he could well go to Market Rasen on Saturday for a novices’ chase and then see where we get to. He wouldn’t mind a drop of rain.”

Born Survivor (IRE)

139-rated hurdler. Winner of an Irish point-to-point and successful over hurdle for new connections at Warwick and Wetherby last season.

“He is probably going to have another year over hurdles and I do really like this horse. We are probably going to give him another year to just get used to it all before he goes chasing and he has physically matured during the Summer.”

Captain Chaos (IRE)

139-rated hurdler. Winner over hurdles at Uttoxeter and Exeter last season and runner-up in a conditions event at Enghien.

“He ran well in a conditions hurdle at Enghien in the Spring but is very much a chaser and is a great big horse who will go novice chasing. He will run at most trips but I reckon he will eventually end up being a stayer.”

Video Form
14 Nov 2015:
28 Jan 2015:

Ch'tibello (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Sageburg - Neicha (Neverneyev)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Wincanton, 18 Feb 2017 14:45
  • Result: 2/6, held up in rear, closed on bend after 3 out, led last, driven and headed flat, edged left, held towards finish
  • View full form

144-rated hurdler. Winner of the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr (2m) in April by a length and a quarter from Cloudy Dream and subsequently third to Gwafa in the Grade 3 Swinton Hurdle at Haydock (1m 7 1/2f) in May.

“He won the Scottish Champion Hurdle last year and is a horse we like a lot. He will probably go to Ascot on October 29th or Wincanton on November 5th for the two good hurdles that day and we will make a plan from there.”

Video Form
16 Oct 2015:

Cobra De Mai (FR)

120-rated hurdler. Fourth to Diego Du Charmil in the Free Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow on Saturday.

“He has done well over the Summer and had his first run off the season at Chepstow last weekend. Ultimately, I thought he would be a stayer and he gave that impression at Chepstow.”

Video Form
11 May 2017:
6 Dec 2016:
26 Nov 2016:
8 Oct 2016:
23 Feb 2016:

Indietir (FR)

141-rated hurdler. A winner three times over hurdles in France and second in a Grade 1 at Auteuil in November.

“I think he was feeling the effects of a long season in France when he joined us so we gave him plenty of time last year. He looks nicely handicapped off 141 and he will go for an open handicap at Huntingdon on November 8th and we can go from there.”

Video Form
14 May 2017:

Its'afreebee (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Danroad - Aphra Benn (In The Wings)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 19 Apr 2017 15:15
  • Result: 7/7, towards rear, slow 1st, not fluent 3rd, pushed along after 6th, in touch before 2 out, soon outpaced, well beaten before last
  • View full form

144-rated hurdler. Winner of his first three races for Skelton including when beating Le Prezien three quarters of a length in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock in January and subsequently third to Yorkhill in the Grade 1 Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m 5f) in March.

“He might go to Bangor in the middle of the month over fences and then go from there. He won a Grade 2 last year and there is no reason why he can’t go on over fences.”

Video Form
31 Jan 2017:
14 Oct 2016:
17 Sep 2015:
27 Aug 2015:
15 Jul 2015:

Knockgraffon (IRE)

132-rated hurdler. Winner over hurdles at Leicester (2m 4 1/2f) in January and Newton Abbot (2m 2 2/12f) in March.

“He will probably go to the Cheltenham October meeting for a novices’ chase and then crack on from there but he’s a proper nice horse.”

Video Form
26 Mar 2016:
26 Jan 2016:
29 Nov 2015:
20 Dec 2014:

Long House Hall (IRE)

151-rated chaser and 146-rated hurdler. Runner-up, beaten only a length and a quarter, to Diamond King in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham in March and scored by eight lengths from Ballynagour in the Listed Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen in July.

“He is being given a bit of time at the moment. He gave his all when winning the Summer Plate and it would be my intention to have as best as I can the Spring – he ran well at the Festival and was second in the Coral Cup and something like the Byrne Group would have to come into consideration.”

Video Form
29 May 2016:
28 Aug 2014:
17 Jul 2014:
6 Jul 2014:
5 Jun 2014:

Meet The Legend

138-rated hurdler. Scored by three and a half lengths from Emerging Talent at Newbury (2m 1/2f) in February and finished a creditable third to Le Prezien in a Grade 2 event at Kelso (2m 2f) in March.

“He is a horse I like a lot and he is still getting his act together. He will go to the Greatwood at Cheltenham on November 13th.”

Mister Miyagi (IRE)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Zagreb - Muckle Flugga (Karinga Bay)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2017 14:50
  • Result: 14/25, towards rear, headway into mid-division 5th, outpaced 2 out, stayed on to chase leaders before last, never on terms, ridden and weakened flat
  • View full form

147-rated hurdler. Winner of three of four hurdles races last season scoring over two miles and half a furlong at Cheltenham in October and Taunton in November. Sixth to Altior in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival before resuming winning ways over two and a half miles at Cheltenham in April.

“He will probably run at Kempton the week after next. He has grown up a lot mentally and we will aim him at some good races this season.”

Video Form
26 Nov 2015:
28 Mar 2015:
9 Mar 2015:
19 Dec 2014:
29 Oct 2014:

North Hill Harvey

141-rated hurdler. Won a novice event at Cheltenham (2m 1f) in December and ran well in better company afterward including when fourth to Buveur D’Air in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ at Aintree in April.

“He is going to Ascot or Wincanton whichever race Chi’tibello doesn’t go for. I would imagine he will have another year over hurdles as it will do him the world of good to do that before he goes over fences.”

Pain Au Chocolat (FR)

145-rated chaser. Won successive novice chases at Haydock and Newcastle in December and February.

“He will start in the Haldon Gold Cup and hopefully there is a big race in him.”

Video Form
3 Feb 2016:
2 May 2015:
4 Jan 2015:

Robin Roe (IRE)

Winning Irish point-to-pointer who won his only bumper at Warwick in March.

“He is a real nice horse who won his only start for us at Warwick after winning an Irish point. He will go to Aintree on October 23rd for a two and a half mile novices’ hurdle and then we will go from there.”

Stephanie Frances (IRE)

  • 9-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: King's Theatre - Brownlow Castle (Supreme Leader)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Kempton, 27 Dec 2016 13:45
  • Result: 3/4, chased leader until mistake 7th, chased leading pair, outpaced and no chance from 4 out
  • View full form

136-rated chaser. Winner of novice chase at Southwell and Worcester in August and beaten only a head by Rejaah when conceding 24lb at Worcester in September.

“She goes to Bangor on November 9th for a listed mares’ novices chase’ over two miles. She will probably be put into foal in the Spring.”

Video Form
6 Sep 2016:
21 Aug 2016:
14 Aug 2016:
16 Nov 2015:
30 Jul 2015:

Superb Story (IRE)

145-rated hurdler. Provided the stable with their first Cheltenham Festival winner when beating Fethard Player two and a half lengths in the Grade 3 Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle.

“He is back in and I wish I hadn’t gone to Galway as nothing went right there. He ran second in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season and it was great to have our first Festival win with him in the County Hurdles as that had been the plan after that race. He will probably go for the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on December 10th and then we will go from there.”

Video Form
28 Jul 2016:
9 Apr 2015:
18 Feb 2015:

Three Musketeers (IRE)

152-rated chaser. Winner of a Grade 2 Novices’ Chase at Newbury (2m 4f) in November by four and a half lengths from Activial.

“He will go for the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 23rd and then we will step him up to three miles. He has done very well during the Summer and is improving all the time and we are looking forward to getting him going again.”

Two Taffs (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Richs Mermaid (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Ayr, 21 Apr 2017 15:50
  • Result: Won/8, held up towards rear, headway before 8th, led 3 out, clear before 2 out, kept on well run-in
  • View full form

138-rated hurdler. Scored by three lengths from Missed Approach in a valuable handicap hurdle at Ayr (2m 5 1/2f) in April.

“We will be looking at the fixed brush handicap hurdle at Haydock on November 19th or something similar. He looks on a reasonable mark and hopefully can progress further.”

Value At Risk

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kayf Tara - Miss Orchestra (Orchestra)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Perth, 27 Apr 2017 16:10
  • Result: 5/7, close up on outside, outpaced after 4 out, soon ridden, no impression with leaders from next, lost modest 4th flat
  • View full form

146-rated hurdler and chaser. Winner of a Grade 2 Hurdle at Fairyhouse and completed the course for the first time over fences when fourth to Cottersrock at Uttoxeter this month.

“It was vital that he had a clear round over fences and he achieved that on his return at Uttoxeter. I think he will improve massively for that and he did blow up and will improve. I would imagine he will go to Bangor or Huntingdon in the middle or the end of October and then we will step him up in class once he has won a novices’ or beginners’ chase.”

Video Form
2 Oct 2016:
28 Mar 2016:

Virgilio (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Denham Red - Liesse De Marbeuf (Cyborg)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Aintree, 19 May 2017 20:20
  • Result: Won/10, held up towards rear, not fluent 6th, headway on outside 4 out, challenged next, led 2 out, ridden clear last, stayed on
  • View full form

148-rated chaser. Made a winning debut over fences at Warwick in May when beating Rock On Oscar 13 lengths and followed up with another impressive display in an intermediate chase at Newton Abbot last week when slamming Brother Tedd six lengths.

“He has made an excellent start to his chasing career and followed up his first success with another exhilarating display at Newton Abbot last week. He goes for the Rising Stars at Wincanton on November 5th and if he carries on as he is then the long term target is the Pendil Novices’ Chase at Kempton.”

Video Form
7 Oct 2016:

Walking In The Air (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Rossavon (Beneficial)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Market Rasen, 17 Nov 2016 14:35
  • Result: PU/12, tracked leader, mistake 4th, dived at 8th, pushed along when lost action pulled up quickly and dismounted approaching 4 out
  • View full form

129-rated hurdler. Easy winner of his maiden hurdle at Warwick (2m 5f) in March.

“He won a maiden hurdle and will make a lovely chaser. He will probably start at Uttoxeter on Thursday 13th October and I really like him.”

Welsh Shadow (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Robin Des Champs - What A Mewsment (Persian Mews)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Newbury, 31 Dec 2016 12:40
  • Result: 6/13, raced keenly, held up in touch, headway tracking leaders 7th (water), slightly lost place 10th, rallied chasing leaders approaching 4 out, blundered left 4th and hampered 2 out, weakened and went left last
  • View full form

140-rated hurdler. Gained his latest success when beating Jetstream Jack a length and a quarter in a novices’ hurdle at Ayr (2m 4 1/2f) in April.

“He goes for the Welsh Champion Hurdle on October 15 and then we will think about chasing.”

Video Form
15 Oct 2016:

Whatduhavtoget (IRE)

  • 5-y-o; bay mare
  • Breeding: Presenting - Smooching (Saddlers' Hall)
  • Trained by: D Skelton
  • Last Race: Ayr, 22 Apr 2017 16:30
  • Result: 2/10, held up towards rear, headway when not fluent 3 out, every chance next, kept on same pace closing stages
  • View full form

Winner of her only point-to-point in Ireland and hacked up on her hurdling debut at Uttoxeter this month.

“She really impressed me at Uttoxeter and I really like her. I would probably go to Newbury twice in November for the mares and then look for some Spring targets. I wouldn’t want to be ruining her on bad ground.”

Video Form
21 Feb 2017:
2 Oct 2016:

Yes I Did (IRE)

127-rated hurdler. Winner at Southwell, Sedgefield and Catterick last season.

“We don’t know where we will start with her but she will end up over fences this season. She is tough genuine and stays and jumps. She won three last year and as long as we keep her to the right places she could do the same again.”

Video Form
4 Nov 2016:
19 Oct 2016:
5 Mar 2016:
9 Feb 2016:
17 Nov 2015:

Zarib (IRE)

135-rated hurdler. Runner-up, beaten three and three quarter lengths, to Midnight Shot at Fontwell (2m 3f) this month.

“He just missed out last time at Fontwell and was giving away 15lb to the winner. I think he can win off his mark but it won’t be long before he goes chasing.”

Video Form
2 Mar 2017:
28 Dec 2016:
10 Nov 2016:
1 Oct 2016:
30 Sep 2014:
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