Harry Skelton’s stellar form continued as he maintained his title charge with a hat-trick at Southwell.
Skelton was behind defending champion jockey Brian Hughes by three wins before the meet, with both riders with full ride logs at Southwell and Hexham respectively.
Skelton secured an early winner on the board in the first race aboard Gary Hanmer’s Costly Diamond, who sealed a hat-trick by winning a length and a quarter in the biowavego.co.uk and Wave race Goodbye To Pain Handicap Chase.
Riding prominently throughout the race, the races favorite took the lead from the sixth fence and was never passed, clinging to victory in front of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Larch Hill.
The next contest produced another Skelton success, with the jockey this time partnering with Olly Murphy First Class Return in the Free Tips Daily on attheraces.com Handicap Chase.
Starting as a 10-11 favorite, the eight-year-old won early and was unchallenged as he recorded a 12-length victory.
Skelton was denied three straight wins when he was beaten in the next two games, but Soyouthinksoagain managed to deliver the Handicap Hurdle from Weatherbys nhstallions.co.uk for his brother Dan.
The victory left Skelton at Hughes ‘level at the top of the table with each jockey on 130 wins, but Hughes’ success aboard Bavington Bob in the fourth race at Hexham saw him regain the lead with more than three weeks until ‘at the end of the season.
“It’s great and it’s thanks to a good team,” Skelton told Sky Sports Racing.
“Dan’s horses are flying and I take a few rides outside. I am in a very privileged position with a lot of good people around me.
“Obviously you’re still watching, aren’t you?” he said when asked if he was following Hughes’ fortune to Hexham.
“I would be lying if I said no, but it’s a position I’ve always wanted to be in – I’ve dreamed of being here.
“I never thought I would do it this year, but it’s fantastic and I love it.
“My agent, Ian Popham, works very hard and my brother works very hard to place the horses.”
Elsewhere on the map, the favorite prevailed in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, with Aidan Coleman in the saddle as Hob House, trained by Nicky Henderson, triumphed at 5-2.
From the family of the winner Champion Hurdle Brilliant and sporting the same JP McManus silks, Hob House was making his racetrack debut and Coleman was impressed with the professionalism he displayed.
“He felt great, I delivered him well and he didn’t really bother,” he said.
“He was quite ahead for the race and the race went as planned. I hired him a little earlier than I would like because they decided to take me out of the back.
“I just let him continue so he was slowing down a bit in the straight line, but he’s a nice horse.
“He was very good, he was very straightforward and professional.”
Of all the similarities between the four-year-old and Epatante, Coleman added, “There’s a lot to like about him. He’s probably not as fast as her, but he’s got the size and reach to run a little further than her. “
Rockstar Ronnie was the market leader for the Download The At The Races App Novices’ Hurdle and looked likely to be another winner for Skelton, but it was Olly Murphy’s No Risk Des Flos that struck to give Coleman consecutive wins. .
The Gray had run with credit in the previous four starts, winning once in a first hurdle, and demonstrated his credentials as a future hunter with a good round of vaulting and a three-and-a-quarter win.
“He’s a beautiful horse, he just needed a little time, but he did his job,” said Ger Tumelty, Murphy’s assistant trainer.
“He’s won two hurdles this season and he’s going to be a lovely horse to hunt for novices with – I imagine that would be the plan next year.
“It’s still a little green, it’s still a little raw.
“It was a cooler horse that started today, we’re really happy with him and I think he would probably enjoy it a bit more on slower ground.
“He was good enough to win today, that’s the main thing.”
Charlie Todd appeared to escape serious injury as he was not dispatched from Dragon Bones in the Sky Sports Racing Virgin 535 Mares ‘Novices’ Hurdle.
The filly swerved as it approached the obstacle, pulling Todd into the obstacle, but the rider backed away from the incident. Padstow Harbor (11-1) won the award.