Mohaayed serves up happy return for Skeltons

County Hurdle winner bags another big handicap at Ascot

  • Saturday 22 December
  • News
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Mohaayed provided Dan and Harry Skelton with a second win in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot.

The success of Willow’s Saviour in this race in 2013 put the brothers on the map as a formidable trainer-and-jockey combination, and they have enjoyed hundreds of winners in the meantime.

One of the biggest was Mohaayed (16-1) in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and he was 6lb higher this time.

Racing in cheekpieces for the first time, the six-year-old was sent on a long way out but kept on responding to pressure.

Alan King’s Lisp emerged out of the pack to throw down the gauntlet, but a big leap at the last from the leader enabled him to win by two and a quarter lengths.

Western Ryder was third, with Grand Sancy fourth.

Winning jockey Harry Skelton told ITV Racing: “With Willow’s Saviour, it was where it all started, so to come back and win it again is great.

“We’ve had an unbelievable year with a lot of winners, but we were saying yesterday it is the bigger days you need to hit the target. We were relying on Mohaayed – he’s done it before, and he’s done it again.

“The last day in the Greatwood, he’s a bit of a monkey, he dropped himself out – so we put cheekpieces on today to sharpen him up, and it’s a welcome Christmas present for everyone at home.”

Dan Skelton said: “I said to Harry the other day ‘when you have these horses you have got to forget about plans and enjoy today’. He has just won the second most valuable handicap in Britain.

“He is just an incredible horse. I just hope he can keep contesting races like this and stay sound and healthy. When we won this race with Willow’s Saviour Paul (Nicholls) ran Ptit Zig off top weight, and he went on to be a Grade One winner.

“This horse is not old, and he will have to be given an entry in the Champion Hurdle. I shouldn’t think he will go for the Betfair. He falls in a hard place now – but he has just won the second most valuable two-mile handicap hurdle.”

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