Skelton admits seeing son become champion jockey eclipses own triumphs

Nick Skelton admits seeing son Harry become champion jockey at Sandown eclipses his own triumphs as he states: ‘I was getting more agitated than him’

  • Nick Skelton was jubilant his son Harry was named champion jockey at Sandown 
  • Skelton Snr stated that the achievement even eclipses his own triumphs
  • Harry was denied  chance to crown his title success with victory in the Gold Cup

Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Nick Skelton says seeing his son Harry presented with the trophy for being champion jockey at Sandown gave him more pleasure than any of his own triumphs.

Skelton Snr was one of the most decorated showjumpers in the sport’s history, capping his career with a gold medal at the age of 58 at the Olympics in 2016.

But even as a sportsman used to pressure, Skelton admitted he felt the tension as Harry battled out the title race with Brian Hughes.

Harry Skelton (second right) celebrates with his Champion Jockey trophy for the national hunt season 2020-21 with Dan Skelton (left) wife Bridget and father Nick (right)

Nick, whose elder trainer son Dan supplied the majority of Harry’s wins, said: ‘I was getting more agitated than Harry because I wanted him to win!

‘The Olympic Gold was five years ago and was a great day but when the boys do it I feel greater pride. We are a tight-knit family and I think we are good at what we do.

‘Dan and Harry work brilliantly together. They were always around me when I was going to the shows. They grew up with horses and have taken it on into racing.

‘I think they get their determination from me. We don’t give up, we are not quitters. You have to keep fighting. That’s what I did and it is what I instilled into them.’

It was a bittersweet finale for Harry on Saturday as he was denied a chance to crown his title success with victory in the Gold Cup when Enrilo lost the race in a stewards enquiry after veering left on the run-in and checking the finishing run of third-past-the-post Kitty’s Light.

Harry Skelton’s father Nick admits that he was anxious watching his son battle for glory

The race was awarded to Alan King-trained Potterman, who passed the post in second and was not involved in the interference.

Enrilo’s trainer Paul Nicholls, crowned champion for a 12th time, confirmed that after a discussion with the gelding’s owners there would be no appeal against the stewards’ decision.

A four-day careless riding ban means Skelton Jnr will start the defence of his title on the back foot, especially as he was already facing a six-day suspension for two infringements picked up in the final few days of his championship season.

Tom Cannon riding Potterman (left) won the Gold Cup as Skelton’s Enrilo lost in a steward’s enquiry

Before that Harry rides his brother’s Nube Negra in the William Hill Champion Chase on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival on Tuesday. Opposition includes Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi, one of three rides on the day for Paul Townend on his return from a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since April 4.

Townend goes into the final week of the Irish jumps season four wins clear of Rachael Blackmore, who has five rides on Tuesday including Mullins-trained Allaho in the Champion Chase.

Mutasaabeq, twice a winner at Newmarket and a son of 2009 1,000 Guineas winner Ghanaati, is set to be supplemented for Saturday’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas by trainer Charlie Hills.

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