It was almost full circle for trainer Bob Buckler when he teamed up with newly-crowned champion jockey Harry Skelton for the first time in years in victory at Worcester on Friday.
Skelton gave typically determined ride to guide Cushuish to victory in the Fergal O’Brien Enjoys Racing At Worcester Mares’ Handicap Chase.
It brought back fond memories, for in 2009 Buckler provided a 19-year-old Skelton with a breakthrough success on Niche Market in the Irish Grand National in April 2009.
The then 3lb claimer had claimed his first big-race victory on the same horse in the Silver Cup at Ascot four months earlier.
Skelton, who was a conditional based with Paul Nicholls at that point, has gone on to reach the summit helped by his brother, Dan, at his stables near Alcester in Warwickshire.
For Buckler he was just delighted to have Skelton riding for him again.
“It’s lovely to have him back riding for me after all these years and coming back to normality as it was before. It’s quite sentimental,” said the Somerset handler.
“The horse he rode for me, Cushuish, is a half-sister to My Drogo, who is trained by Harry’s brother, Dan.
“She’s a bit of a madam at the start, but when she gets going she loves to bowl along up there.”
Buckler recalled how he first noticed Skelton as a promising young rider and was able use him a lot in the early days.
“He was with Paul Nicholls as a conditional. If there’s a good conditional it’s quite useful to claim,” he went on.
“Then he started to ride out for me and ride for me. It went very well.
“He won the Silver Cup at Ascot on Niche Market and then the Irish Grand National. We went to Fairyhouse as he missed cut for the Grand National that year.”
Buckler revealed he has been keeping a keen eye on Skelton’s career through the years.
“When you’ve been involved with someone like that you naturally follow their progress,” he said.
“He rides incredibly well and he’s totally and utterly dedicated. The whole team is.”
Halfway through the season Buckler felt Skelton had a good chance of winning the title.
“It’s absolutely brilliant for him. I thought halfway through the season he must have a fair chance because they have plenty of ammunition,” he added.
“He wouldn’t have done it without his brother. They are a brilliant combination – the attention to detail is incredible and they have an amazing set up.
“Harry’s done it well and Dan’s got the horses, which is brilliant for all of them.”