We are delighted to announce that former champion jockey Harry Skelton has joined Star Sports as a National Hunt brand ambassador.
Skelton won the 2020/21 Jump Jockeys’ Championship and is stable jockey to his brother Dan’s powerful yard in Warwickshire. Each week he will update Star Sports customers on his rides and the yard’s runners via a blog as well as providing regular video content and exposure on social media.
He joins recently retired jockey Davy Russell as a Star Sports ambassador and the pair will offer their insights and analysis each week, as well as each day during the major spring festivals.
“I’m really happy to be working with Star Sports,” said Skelton. “They have always invested in racing through sponsorships, Cheltenham preview nights and other activities. I’m looking forward to producing the blog and hopefully pointing their customers towards some decent winners over the next few months.
“Davy [Russell] is a top man and it will be great to catch up with him throughout the season. It will be strange not having him in the weighing room at Cheltenham in March, but I’m sure he’ll have lots of opinions on the English and Irish runners.”
Luke Tarr, Head of PR at Star Sports, said: “Harry is a great bloke and a brilliant jockey, and we are honoured to have him as our second National Hunt ambassador, joining the legend that is Davy Russell. How can you not love Harry’s airplane celebration? With Frankie Dettori in the final furlong of an amazing career, we need more characters in racing to attract new fans to the sport. Harry is just what the industry needs and with Davy alongside, the content we will be able to produce will be top class.”
In his first exclusive blog for Star Sports, Harry reveals his Five To Follow for the season and also provides an update on the stable stars …
5️⃣ Harry’s Five to Follow
🏇 KATEIRA should be in for a good year. She’s stepping out of novice company for the first time, which we hope she will take in her stride. A possible starting point for her would be Wetherby, and we’ll look to go up in trip after that. She finished off last season with a great run at Aintree in a Grade 1. I think she’s a really tough mare, she’s by Kayf Tara, and hopefully she’ll only get better with age. All roads will hopefully lead to the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
🏇 HOE JOLY SMOKE is still a maiden and could be a bit more of a dark horse to follow this year. He’s by Black Sam Bellamy and has undergone a wind operation since he last ran in a Grade 2 at Kelso where he was going quite nicely but for stumbling after the second last and nearly pulling a shoe off. He was getting into the race nicely that day. He’s a nice big horse and hopefully he can lose that maiden tag fairly early on. He looks a nice type to follow down the handicap route in the early part of the season and we’ll see how and where he goes from there.
🏇 ETALON ran a nice race at the end of the season at Sandown in the EBF Final. He’s a nice, big horse who looks to go over fences now, where hopefully he can really progress. He’ll probably start off in handicaps, currently rated 120, and we hope he can move up the ranks and move into graded novice chases come the springtime.
🏇 TAKE NO CHANCES is due to go novice hurdling after three runs in bumpers. She ran very well twice but was slightly over the top by the time of her third run, so you can draw a line through that. She’ll probably start off around two or two-and-a-half miles. She showed some really nice form in a Listed bumper at Market Rasen last season behind Dysart Enos and Queens Gamble, so we hope that she can shake off her maiden tag early on and progress into better company in novice hurdles in the new year.
🏇 PIKAR is going to go novice chasing. He’s undergone a wind operation over the summer and has done very well physically. I think chasing is going to be his game – he’s a very good, neat jumper. We’ll start off over two miles and see if he needs to go up in trip. I could see this horse going into graded class – going chasing should suit him really well. He’s always been a good horse and has shown some decent form, but hopefully the wind op has worked and he can progress into those graded novice chases.
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★ The Skelton Stable Stars
🏇 PROTEKTORAT (pictured below) is in great form. He’ll likely start off in the Betfair Chase and we’ll make further plans from there. He’s in great form at home and we’re really looking forward to Haydock. We hope he can defend his crown.
🏇 LE MILOS progressed up the weights last year after winning the Coral Gold Cup, from which we had our hearts set on the National. There’s a little bit of a different plan this year because he’s still young and probably has a little bit more to offer down the graded route. He’ll be out this side of Christmas and we’ll see where he takes us.
🏇 WEST BALBOA finished off the season very well at Aintree having won the Lanzarote prior to that. We now think three miles is going to be her game. She could start off at Wetherby in the West Yorkshire Hurdle, but that will depend on the ground. Then there’s the Stayers’ Hurdle and the three-mile hurdle at Aintree to look towards. A lot of water will go under the bridge before those two, but they will definitely be her main targets for the season. She was very progressive last season and the hope is that she is now ready for the big league.
🏇 MIDNIGHT RIVER (pictured below) will also probably start off at Wetherby before a tilt at the Coral Gold Cup. It’s a race that we won last year and it suits second-season novices. He’s progressed really well and is only now coming into his own, starting to get the hang of things. He was a boy who is now becoming a man. He’s up the weights, so he’s going to have to have a bit more in the locker in a very competitive handicap, but hopefully he’s ready for this now.
🏇 MY DROGO is back in after missing a year and a half. He seems in great form at home, but he’s a little bit hard to place at the moment given his experience and his rating. There aren’t that many options in the early season. He’s looking fit and well, though, so we’re looking to get started in the Old Roan at Aintree and will make more plans after that. He’s still got it and we’re very excited to get him back to the racecourse.
🏇 GALIA DES LITEAUX is all about very soft ground and three miles. There’s a Listed three-mile mares’ chase at Market Rasen which could be where she starts off. After that, we’ll know where we’re going with her. She’s a very honest mare, but those conditions are a must for her.
🏇 NURSE SUSAN is looking at the Listed mares’ novices’ chase which Galia Des Liteaux won last year at Bangor. Before she picked up a niggling injury, she looked pretty smart last season. She’s a great, big bull of a mare now – a whole different physique to what we had – and hopefully her time away has done her some good.
🏇 GREY DAWNING is going novice chasing. Three miles will probably be his trip and he will have learnt from last season – novices do make mistakes, that’s why they’re novices. He’s got all the ability in the world, even though he’s very unassuming at home and saves it for the track. He should be set for a good year in the novice chase division.
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