The Skelton family are known for their love of horses and the work they have done with them. The success that Harry Skelton has had as a jockey has been a part of that, building the family up and terms of horse racing. It’s a family affair as older brother Dan is the trainer, while Harry is the jockey.
To begin his racing career, Harry was a flat jockey and spent time with the Richard Hannon yard, but he struggled with the lower weights of flat racing and decided to move over to national hunt racing. He joined his brother, who at the time was assistant to Paul Nicholls, and began his jumping career there.
It was a strong start for Harry. In 2009 he became the youngest-ever jockey to win the Irish Grand National, winning on Niche Market trained by Bob Buckler. Two years later, in 2011, he won his first Grade 2 contest, winning the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on the Paul Nicholls-trained Celestial Halo.
It’s not just his brother Dan that is associated with horses from the family. Harry’s dad is Nick Skelton, a gold medal-winning equestrian rider, while Harry’s wife is fellow jockey Bridget Andrews, who also rides for Dan Skelton.
Harry had his first Grand National ride in 2010, and it was a horse that he’d already had success on. Niche Market, who he rode to success in the 2009 Irish Grand National, was sent to Aintree in 2010 with Harry steering him round, though he was pulled up at the 29th fence.
Harry Skelton Grand National Wins
Harry Skelton has never won the Grand National.
Their best finish to date was in 2011 with Niche Market who came 5th.
|2023||Le Milos||10||£5,000||Dan Skelton|
|2018||Virgilio||Fence 6 - Fell||-||Dan Skelton|
|2016||Le Reve||11||-||Lucy Wadham|
|2012||Vic Venturi||Fence 19 - Refused||-||Dessie Hughes|
|2011||Niche Market||5||£25,270||Paul Nicholls|
|2010||Niche Market||Fence 29 - Pulled Up||-||Bob Buckler|
Partnership With Dan Skelton
It is fair to say that the Skelton brothers have had a massive impact on their separate careers. Without Harry, Dan would likely not have had the success he has, and without Dan, Harry wouldn’t have ridden the winners he has.
They’ve combined for wins on the biggest stage, at the Cheltenham Festival, and with other Grade One races on the calendar. In 2013, Dan decided to leave the Paul Nicholls yard and set up himself, taking Harry with him. He installed Harry as the stable jockey, and instantly the pair had success.
Dan was impressing, bringing in new owners to the yard, and numbers quickly went up. The pair travelled the country together. If the best opportunities were found in the north of England, or maybe even Scotland, they would go in search of them.
Success at the highest level came a few years later, Superb Story gave them their first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2016, three years after setup, while a further three years later, in 2019, the pair landed their first Grade One contest together.
Champion Jockey Winner In The 2020/2021 Season
Backed by a vast number of horses from his brother’s yard, plus with some strong outside rides for other trainers, Harry Skelton was able to land the 2020/21 jockeys’ championship, riding 152 winners in a season.
The majority of those came on horses trained by Dan, but he did need others to top up the wins he had. When collecting the award, Harry mentioned Dan as a huge part of his success, further showing what a partnership they had become.
Harry was a man hunting down as many good rides as he could and was often seen going all over the country, riding horses for his brother and then filling in the gaps on other horses, where possible. It took winners at both ends of the spectrum to land the title, from big race wins in the middle of winter to low-grade summer meetings, but ultimately, it all ended in success for Skelton.