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“It’s always been the plan for me to be the teacher and Harry to be the jockey,” Dan Skelton says as he and his brother put together for the Cheltenham festival this week. Harry Skelton is the bookmakers’ generic to develop into the champion jockey of bounce racing this year whereas Dan is the most promising young trainer in England and challenging the powerhouse yards of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson.
Their ambitions stem from their father, Nick, who won gold medals in showjumping on the London and Rio Olympic games. Nick Skelton was 58 when he won particular person gold in 2016 and that sporting drive has been exceeded all the way down to his sons, who’re also two of the most engaging guys in racing.
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This story appears even more clean after a bleak duration on the grounds that final 12 months’s festival become held in entrance of massed crowds simply because the pandemic begun to unfold with alarming pace. That flawed choice to press ahead at Cheltenham has clouded a activity that now appears even more battered following the ebook final month of the infamous picture of the Irish coach Gordon Elliott sitting on appropriate of a useless horse. The brothers will soon express their anger and feel sorry about at the harm achieved to racing however first they trawl via their recollections.
“There’s basically a little video of Harry at 18 months old together with his skullcap on, pacing round on his pony, and i’m there because the trainer,” Dan remembers. “So from a really younger age we knew what we desired. Surely, with Dad, we all the time had that aggressive side to us. After which later he turned into a silent drive in the back of us. You never see our dad on the front of things. He’s not in fact that personable and he likes to be within the background.”
Nick Skelton in action on the London 2012 Olympics, where he won team leaping gold. Graphic: Antonio Olmos/The Observer
Dan and Harry are very different to their father for they’re both extremely approachable. They’re also close after enduring adversity collectively once they had been tons more youthful. “I’d say it changed into sixteen years in the past when we misplaced our mum,” Harry says. “obviously to lose a father or mother at that age changed into very difficult. However our parents cut up up once we had been very younger, so I in no way remembered them collectively. However me and Dan have always been very shut. It’s always been the two of us collectively.”
Horse riding A winner is a dreamer who never gives up poster
Dan, at 35, is 4 and a half years older than Harry. He spent 9 years working at Nicholls’ yard, notably as an assistant to the champion trainer at a time when horses equivalent to Kauto celebrity and Denman were imperious and he says: “I’ve at all times been bold and that i suppose that’s via advantage of being around my father after which Paul. They’re high-attaining, bold, forward-considering americans and it rubbed off on me. It changed into an awesome time at Paul’s.”