Dan Skelton

Dan Skelton

Dan Skelton began his training career in 2013 when he set up his own stables and took out a full-time license. This wasn’t his first step into racing, though, as he’d spent many years working for Paul Nicholls, learning the ropes before going in himself.

Skelton quickly emerged as one of the leading trainers in UK horse racing, his rise to the top was rapid, and while he may still struggle to have the same connections and financial power behind him as the likes of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, he is edging closer with every season.

If there is a new name right at the top of British horse racing in the coming years, then it is more than likely going to be Dan Skelton. He’s from a family that loves horses, and the partnership he’s formed on and off the course with his brother is a real driving force behind the success that the yard is seeing.

In just a few short years, Dan has had Cheltenham Festival winners and others elsewhere at Grade One level. This is only just the beginning of what could be racing dominance.

Dan Skelton Grand National Wins

Dan Skelton has never trained a horse that has won the Grand National.

Their best finish to date was in 2021 with Blaklion ridden by Harry Skelton who came 6th.

Full Results

Year Horse Result Prize Money Jockey
2024 Galia Des Liteaux 8 £3,600 Harry Skelton
2023 Le Milos 10 £5,000 Harry Skelton
2022 Blaklion 14 - Harry Skelton
2021 Blaklion 6 £30,000 Harry Skelton
2018 Virgilio Fence 6 - Fell - Harry Skelton

Rising To The Top Of The Ladder

The start to life as a trainer for Dan Skelton has been very good. Some people take years to build up a collection of contacts, get the right horses in and, of course, have the financial support from owners. But for Skelton, things changed quickly. He set up the yard in 2013, had his first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2016, and followed that up with his first Grade One success in 2019 when Roksana won the Grade One Mares’ Hurdle at the festival.

One of the big reasons behind the success of the Skelton yard has been his openness to running his horses anywhere they have the best chance of winning. You will often see the Skelton team have runners at Northern tracks, even on bigger days elsewhere, because they are happy to travel in order to find winners.

Horses from the yard are known for running on a regular basis, which is another reason why he’s had so many winners so early in his career. He is also a trainer that has a good number of summer jumpers, too, picking up winners when some others are rarely sending out runners. The likes of Nicholls and Henderson focus on the winter months, so they hardly have any runners for the summer meetings, while Skelton likes to have plenty of horses for both, so you will regularly see him with runners in the summer.

It is all of this combined that has led Dan Skelton to being close to the top of UK racing, and not only that but managing to do it in such a short period of time.

Tutored By Paul Nicholls

If you want to be the best in life, it is often a good thing to learn from the best, and that is exactly what Dan Skelton did. Prior to going alone in 2013, he spent nine years under the wing of Paul Nicholls, becoming his assistant during that time, and being by his side when Nicholls was on top of the world.

When the likes of Kauto Star, Denman, Big Bucks, Master Minded and others were dominating the racing world under Paul Nicholls, Dan Skelton was his assistant trainer, helping him work out race plans and big targets for those stars. It was a glimpse into what racing could be like for someone at the top and probably made Skelton hungry to go out and achieve that for himself.

You can only begin to imagine the wealth of knowledge that Skelton will have picked up in those nine years, helping him develop into the trainer he is today. With that knowledge and the experience he is now picking up himself, Skelton could eventually one day go past his former boss and achieve more.

The Skelton Family

It is also worth understanding that Dan Skelton isn’t a racing man alone, he’s surrounded by other family members who have had real success with horses. His dad is Nick Skelton, former equestrian athlete for Team GB, recognised with a CBE for his services, as well as being a two-time gold medal winner in 2012 and 2016, and picking up plenty more accolades along the way.

Nick’s desire to be the best and get to the top in his sport, as well as the hard work he put in to get there, has certainly rubbed off on Dan, even though they are taking different career paths with horses.

Of course, the biggest partnership that Dan Skelton has in the family is with his brother, Harry Skelton. He is a jockey, and in 2013 made the decision to go with Dan and be his stable jockey, knowing that his brother had big plans. The brothers have been vitally important in the success they’ve each had over the years, supporting with good race-winning rides and, of course, the horses to ride, in Harry’s case.

Harry won the 2020/21 Champion Jockey title, riding 152 winners, and has already passed the 1000-winner mark in his career. He, too, spent time with Paul Nicholls, riding there while Dan was assistant, and became the youngest winner of the Irish Grand National.

Both men help each other out, and the partnership brings out the very best in them.

Famous Horses Trained By Dan Skelton

Here are some of the biggest names trained by Dan Skelton.