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Summer Hurdle success could be on the card for title-chasing Skeltons

Harry Skelton will be eyeing a second victory in the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen.

Dan Skelton has thrown two of his most progressive hurdlers into the main event at Market Rasen on Saturday, and a victory could send brother, Harry well on his way towards a maiden Jockey’s Championship.

Jumps racing returns to our television screens on Saturday, with Market Rasen hosting the most important card during the early stages of the National Hunt season. ITV Racing viewers will be treated to two excellent Listed handicaps from the Lincolnshire venue, with the Summer Hurdle the most prestigious of the two televised contests.

For the second season in a row, Dan Skelton’s stable have started the campaign like a house on fire, banging in winners all over the country. Last year was the first time Skelton had scaled the 100 winners mark and he’s well on his way to match, and even bettering that total in 18/19, with 65 winners next to his name already.

Dan, and brother Harry, teamed up to win the Summer Hurdle with Red Tornado in 2016, and the five-year-old came within a whisker of defending his crown 12 months ago, only to be denied by a late surge from John Constable. With Red Tornado out of the picture, Skelton has decided to send Fair Mountain and Mister Universum to Market Rasen on Saturday and the trainer is finding it hard to split his challengers.

"There's not much between the two of them." Dan Skelton told the Racing Post. "Fair Mountain is a novice going in to handicaps for the first time and he's the less exposed but Mister Universum has more experience. 

"I'm happy with the pair of them but there's good competition, it's not going to be easy."

"At the moment Harry will probably ride Fair Mountain with Bridget Andrews on Mister Universum. That's our choice as Bridget has ridden Mister Universum and knows a bit about him."

While the dream of someday becoming Champion Trainer may still be a long way off for Dan, Harry boasts a realistic chance of dethroning Richard Johnson this season. Since AP McCoy’s retirement, no-one has really challenged Johnson at the top of the jockey standings, but Harry Has managed to build up a handsome lead during the summer, having ridden 63 winners to Johnson’s 36 and amassing over £150,000 more in prize money thus far.

The bookmakers still see Johnson as the favourite, with the two-time Champion Jockey holding an odds-on price across the boards. However, in recent months, Paddy Power are amongst the firms to have cut Harry Skelton’s odds in from 9/4 to 11/10 second-favouritism.

“Harry’s made a good start but there’s a long way to go yet and he’s pretty grounded about it.” said Skelton’s agent and form jumps jockey, Ian Popham.

“He’s flying along with Dan [Skelton] and riding with great confidence. He knows it’ll be a big ask but he wouldn’t be riding if the title wasn’t his ultimate aim.”

Harry’s likely mount in the Summer Hurdle, Fair Mountain leads the way in the betting, with Paddy Power currently offering odds of 4/1. Mister Universum sits a little way behind his stablemate on odds of 10/1 and I’m sure his prospective jockey, Bridget Andrews wouldn’t begrudge her boyfriend Harry a victory on the favourite, as he looks to enforce his position at the top of the jockey standings.

*Current Summer Hurdle (21/7/18) betting with Paddy Power*
4/1 Fair Mountain, 11/2 Champagne City, 6/1 Artful Artist, 13/2 Hassle, 7/1 Leoncavallo, 10/1 Mister Universum, Cubswin, Card Game, 12/1 Bar

*Current Champion Jockey betting with Paddy Power*
10/11 Richard Johnson, 11/10 Harry Skelton, 15/2 Brian Hughes, 14/1 Sam Twiston-Davies, 50/1 Bar

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Summer Hurdle success could be on the card for title-chasing Skeltons

Dan Skelton has thrown two of his most progressive hurdlers into the main event at Market Rasen on Saturday 21st July, and a victory could send brother Harry well on his way towards a maiden Jockey’s Championship.

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