Tuesday, June 22

Harry Skelton the champion-elect | Racing News

Harry Skelton moved into a commanding 10-winner lead in the jockeys’ title race with just three days of the season left after completing a double at Ludlow.

Skelton now leads Brian Hughes by 150 to 140, after the reigning champion drew a blank at Perth.

Tinnahalla gave Skelton a flying start when landing the odds in the opening Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle. The 1-6 favourite, trained by Olly Murphy, made all the running to beat The Wrekin by three and a quarter lengths.

“He did it nicely, he was a bit tight three out where he lost his back end, but then away he went,” said Skelton.

“Keen horses like him prefer the jumping because it gives them a chance to have a breather.”

Skelton took time to pay tribute to amateur Lorna Brooke, who died on Sunday following a fall at Taunton earlier this month.

He said: “Lorna was a bubbly person who always had a smile on her face and she was a grafter. She would light anyone’s day up.

“It’s devastating that she’s gone. She adored the horses and did it because she loved it. She was a true amateur.”

There was a minute’s applause in Brooke’s memory before racing so it was fitting that Garde Ville, who she partnered to victory in a point-to-point at Sandon at the beginning of the month, should win the Eddie Mapo Memorial Open Hunters’ Chase.

Immy Robinson took the ride on the 11-year-old, owned and trained by Patricia Rigby and the 9-4 shot rose to the occasion to land a poignant success.

“There were two of us riding that horse today. When he came into the home straight and we had the line of fences in front of us, I thought I’m not losing this race because he was jumping for fun,” Robinson told Racing TV.

“I just knew Lorna would be going longer and longer and she would not let those boys pass us, so I had that in my head. I didn’t look that pretty, but I was going to do it for Lorna.

“He’s a phenomenal horse and Lorna should have been riding him today and they were a match made in heaven.

“It was an absolute privilege to be on him today. He’s a real favourite in the point-to-point scene round this area. He’s so consistent and gives his all every time.”

Hatcher (5-6 favourite), trained by Skelton’s brother Dan, gave the jockey a quick double when disposing of Solar Impulse by two and a half lengths in the Watch On Racing TV New Handicap Chase.

The winning trainer said: “He’s a remarkable horse who Pat (Betts, owner) bought as a foal. He was beaten on the all-weather on his first start but has now won 12, including five over fences.

“He doesn’t show signs of losing his pace and will keep going through the summer.”

On his brother’s title hopes, the Alcester handler said: “Until Brian needs more winners than he has rides, it isn’t officially over, but with Harry now 10 ahead it will be very hard for him.”

Another Stowaway (12-1) made most of the running to take the Shukers Landrover Defender Handicap Chase.

The Tom George-trained nine-year-old kept on gamely for Ciaran Gethings to see off Tinkers Hill Tommy and Bbold by two and a half lengths and one and a quarter lengths.

George said: “He won really nicely and I’m very happy with him. It’s taken a long time for him to slip down the handicap, but it’s nice to get him back in winning ways.

“All credit to his owners for being so patient with him. They’ve given the horse every chance. He’s had a few wind operations so I’m delighted for them.”

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