Nothing will ever top Harry Skelton’s wedding day – but a Grade One double at Sandown highlighted by a second Betfair Tingle Creek success for Politologue ensured he celebrated another day to remember.
Success on the biggest stage has been plentiful for Skelton in recent seasons, and having steered the Paul Nicholls-trained grey to Queen Mother Champion Chase glory at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the pair teamed up to secure more top-level success together.
Watched by a crowd of 1,827, the 11-8 favourite defeated stablemate Greaneteen by seven lengths, in a race that came immediately after Skelton had partnered Allmankind, trained by his brother, Dan, to victory in the Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
Skelton said: “It’s not a bad afternoon. Marrying my wife was pretty good so that would have to come top of the list, but this is a close second. It was a magic 45 minutes.
“Politologue was very good. He jumped the first two very well and I felt like I was in control of it then. When he was pricking his ears turning in where the Pond Fence is usually jumped I thought ‘there is plenty left in the tank here’. It is certainly a day I will never forget.
“To be honest I was coming here very relaxed. I knew I had two good rides and on their best form, and if they put their best performances up, they would be bang there and that is exactly what they have done.”
While the decision made by Nicky Henderson to declare Altior 24 a non-runner on Friday evening robbed the Tingle Creek of some of its gloss, Skelton believes it would have taken something special to stop Politologue claiming the fourth Grade One of his career.
He said: “A horse like Altior is a fantastic horse and he was the strongest competition, but on the ground I’d rode on on Friday wasn’t too worried and they obviously took him out because of that.
“It made the job a bit easier, but it would have taken a good horse to have beaten him today. It is remarkable really.”
Having cut his teeth jumping with Nicholls, the 31-year-old praised the 11-times champion trainer for the part he has played in helping to rejuvenate the career of the John Hales-owned gelding.
He added: “He is getting older, but Paul just seems to make him younger somehow. I’ve sat on him a couple of times this time around in the autumn and a couple of weeks ago I schooled him and he did feel like a young horse. He felt fantastic.
“He is going to be lightly raced and I imagine he might have one run, then go for the Champion Chase. Hopefully I will retain the ride on him.”
Though enjoying plenty of time centre stage lately there was a time not so long ago where winners were hard to come by for Skelton, something he feels makes occasions like this all the more special.
He said: “I rode eight winners one season and I thought the whole world was going to end. It is a rough game and a tough game. Paul has always said take your time, be patient.
“We spent a long time at Ditcheat and we learnt a lot from Paul and today I’ve ridden a Grade One winner for my brother and for Paul. All my racing career and everything I’ve put in has been worth it. I’m very lucky to be in the position I am now. You have got to enjoy it.”
The decision to embark on a career over fences with Allmankind is starting to look an inspired one by connections judging by his latest Grade One triumph, although Skelton revealed there was still a question mark as to whether he would truly take to chasing.
He said: “When we went to Wawrick first time out, if you watched him school at home you would have said ‘crikey’ and wouldn’t have been putting your hand up to ride this one. Going into Warwick we were going into the dark. He basically bolted for two miles.
“He has obviously got a massive engine, but he probably doesn’t have a lot upstairs and that is what makes him good. He will go through a wall for you and he is a hard stayer at the end of two miles as he has got such a big heart he will keep running and that is what you need.”
Allmankind has a way to go to match the exploits of Politologue over fences, but Skelton believes he can, given time, reach the same heights.
He added: “Allmankind is quite hairy at times, but for him to come round here and do that of the back of little experience is very good.
“They are both very strong staying two-milers. Allmankind has got a hell of a lot to do to live up to do what Politologue has done, but he has started his career off well and he is going in the right direction.”