Harry Skelton closes gap on reigning champion Brian Hughes in jump jockeys’ title race

Harry Skelton, pictured here winning the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on Politologue at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. (Pic: Courtesy of Cheltenham Racecourse).

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HARRY Skelton’s price to win the 2020 / 21 National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship was cut to 4-7 from 8-11 (Paddy Power) after he rode a hat-trick at Southwell on Wednesday.

Wins on Costly Diamond, First Class Return and Soyouthinksoagain leaves Skelton just one winner behind reigning champion Brian Hughes, who boosted his tally to 130 after riding Bavington Bob to victory at Hexham on Wednesday.

Hughes’ price to retain his title was eased to 5-4 from evens with the same firm, while third-placed Harry Cobden (117 winners) is priced at 20-1 for the jump jockey’s championship which commenced on July 1, 2020 and concludes on April 24, 2021 at Sandown Park.

Skelton bids to become champion jockey for the first time and the jockey’s brother, trainer Dan Skelton, revealed that he is enjoying the challenge of trying to get the jockey over the line in the title race. 

“It’s been great fun. Harry’s looking at it with excitement and thrill, because he’s always wanted to be champion jockey and he’s challenging,” said Dan Skelton, trainer of Harry’s third Southwell winner, Soyouthinksoagain.

“The first part is challenging and the second part is winning, so if you don’t embrace the first part you’re not going to do the second. We’re planning and we’re trying to think outside the box, but it’s going to be very tight. 

“Brian Hughes is used to getting six or seven rides a day and that’s bread and butter to him – he has a phenomenal number of rides and winners. 

“In sport the quality of the opponents legitimises the success of the winner – you need good competition to create good winners – and the two Harrys and Brian are creating something quite exciting for the end of the season. Brian is in the north, we’re in the middle of England and Harry Cobden is the south, so it’s almost three-pronged and it’s great to be a part of. 

“As a brother, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to get him across the line and there won’t be a moment of rest until it’s over. It’s going to the wire and we know that, there’s going to be no let-up and if anything we’re going to have to turn our screw up because we fall behind on numbers, so we’ve got to raise our game. 

“I saw on Monday that Harry had gone into favouritism, but Harry is behind, Brian is in front. That’s where you want to be – he has the advantage and it’s currently his. There’s a big difference being in front to chasing.”

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