Harry Skelton Jockey Profile

Trainer Profiles: Dan Skelton

In this, my second National Hunt trainer piece, I am going to focus on Dan Skelton. I will be digging through nearly ten years of UK racing data from 1st January 2013 to 31st October 2022. The vast majority of the stats I share can be sourced by members using the Geegeez Query Tool. All profits / losses have been calculated to Industry Starting Price, but I will quote Betfair SP data when appropriate.

Dan Skelton Brief Bio

Dan Skelton is the son of show jumping legend Nick Skelton and started training in 2013 having previously been assistant to Paul Nicholls. It is very much a family business and younger brother Harry is the stable jockey. Skelton has saddled at least 150 wins in each of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021, Covid intervening in 2020.

Dan Skelton Overall Record

Below is some further detail around the yard's win record by year:

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There's a consistent strike rate year in year out. 2020 was a little below par but with Covid hitting that year several stables had a slight dip in fortunes. Here is a graphical look at the win and placed (EW) yearly strike rates:

 

 

His overall win strike rate over the 10-year period stands at 18.8%; the each way SR at 40.2%. Breaking down into five-year batches really demonstrates Skelton's consistency:

 

 

In terms of profits / losses, overall figures stand at 23% losses to Industry SP which improves to just under 12% to BSP. This suggests that he has not had many big priced winners that can help to skew such stats. We’ll see if that is case a bit later when we delve into market factors.

At this juncture it is worth mentioning he rarely send runners across the Irish Sea, just 12 having made the journey in 10 years; and only one has won.

It's time now to dig a bit deeper with race distance first on the agenda.

 

Dan Skelton Performance by Race Distance

Last time, we saw that the Paul Nicholls stable performed better at distances of 2m6f or less – what about the Skelton stats?

 

 

His figures are remarkably even across the board in terms of strike rate, while losses are slightly greater at races of 2m1f or less. All in all there seems to be no real distance bias in play here.

 

Dan Skelton Performance in NH Race types

Onto race types now and here are the splits:

 

As a general rule, National Hunt flat races, or bumpers as they are known, seem to be an area to avoid, with a relatively modest strike rate by Skelton's standards of 15.4% and losses hitting just over 38p in the £. However, here are four additional NH flat race stats for Skelton which may surprise as three are positive:

  1. Market position seems key – favourites and second favourites have combined to win 59 races from 186 runners (SR 31.7%) for a loss of £5.76 (ROI -3.1%). BSP returns nudge into the positive returning just over a 6% profit (6p in the £);
  1. Horses third or bigger in the betting have won just 14 races from 314 (SR 5.7%) for steep losses to SP of £185.80 (ROI -59.2%). ROI to BSP is still poor standing at just under -54%;
  1. Despite his overall record in bumpers being quite modest, horses aged six or older actually have an excellent record in these races. 22 wins from 67 (SR 32.8%) for a profit of £21.95 (ROI +32.8%). BSP profits stand at +£30.47 (ROI 45.5%);
  1. This stat has some links with the previous one – bumper horses that had previously had at least three career runs have produced 15 wins from 53 (SR 28.3%) for a profit to SP of £4.00 (ROI +7.6%); to BSP this becomes a profit of £9.53 (ROI +18.0%).

This is a good example of why it is important to drill down into general stats in more detail as you may find positives (or indeed negatives) you were not expecting.

 

Dan Skelton Performance in Chases (excluding hunter chases)

Onto chases now. Overall, Dan has a strike rate of one win in every five races, which is a decent starting point. Let's  split them by handicap and non-handicap chase to see what we get:

 

 

Skelton has many more runners in handicap chases, but his non-handicap chase figures are very good indeed. To have an A/E index of 1.00 across 350 races is impressive and losses to SP have been minimal. To BSP profits stand at £24.73 which equates to returns of 7p in the £.

Sticking with non-handicap chases if we break the results down by distance we see a clear pattern:

 

The stable has enjoyed excellent results at shorter distances but, as the race distances increase, we see a notable drop off in performance. There is also a difference when we analyse class of race in non-handicap chases as the table below shows:

 

That's a huge differential in terms of strike rate, profit/loss, A/E indices and Impact Values. Top class non-handicap chases (class 1 and 2) are perhaps generally best avoided when it comes to Skelton entries: they look under-priced and over-bet.

It is also worth looking at the performance by age in these non-handicap chases as again we see a clear pattern:

 

 

 

Skelton horses aged 4 to 6 in non-handicap chases score roughly twice as often when compared to horses aged 7 or older. These younger horses have also been highly profitable, returning 37p in the £ to Industry SP and 49p in the £ to BSP.

Some final stats I want to share in terms of non-handicap chases are connected with number of previous chase runs. Horses having their first ever UK run in a chase have won 29 races from 86 (SR 33.7%) for an SP profit of £24.61 (ROI +28.6%); BSP profit stands at £37.20 (ROI +43.3%). Horses having their second ever UK run in a chase have won 26 from 69 (SR 37.7%) for an SP profit of £7.86 (ROI +11.4%); BSP profit stands at £14.75 (ROI +21.4%).

 

Dan Skelton Performance in Hurdle Races

A quick delve into hurdle races now – firstly handicap versus non-handicap results:

 

There has been a better strike rate in non-handicap hurdles as you would expect. Losses to SP are similar – to BSP non-handicap losses stand at around 17% and handicap ones at 8%. BSP figures in handicap races have been skewed a little by a few decent priced winners.

It is not easy to find profitable angles hurdles wise for Skelton. However, one snippet which has proved profitable is his record with older hurdlers. Hurdlers aged 9 or older actually have a good record: they have won 40 races from 228 runs (SR 17.5%) for an SP profit of £18.21 (ROI +8.0%); to BSP this improves to £65.62 (ROI +28.8%). If you stuck to handicap hurdles only this improves SP profits to +£35.88 (ROI +17.9%); BSP becomes +£82.96 (ROI +41.3%).

 

Dan Skelton Performance by Starting Price

Let’s examine starting price now using Industry SP prices. Firstly win strike rates:

 

The win strike rates go down uniformly as the price bands increase, which is of course what we would expect. Let's compare A/E values now:

 

 

It seems that there has been better value at the front end of the market (11/4 or shorter), which is again the general expectation. Indeed, horses priced between evens and 11/4 would have broken even if betting at BSP. Outsiders seem to have struggled: horses priced 14/1 or bigger would have produced enormous losses to SP of 61p in the £; at BSP this improved slightly but would still have lost you over 40p in every £ bet. The message is clear – avoid horses priced 14/1 or bigger. Focus on horses that are no bigger than 12/1.

 

Dan Skelton Performance by Course

I am now going to look at all courses where Skelton has had at least 100 runners and break the data down into different subsets. Firstly I am going to look at win strike rate and A/E indices across all races, hurdle races and chases (again exc. hunter chases). With a ‘par’ A/E index for all trainers at around 0.87, I have highlighted A/E indices of 0.95 or higher (in green) as a positive. A/E indices of 0.79 or lower (in red) are a negative:

 

In general we can see that the majority of individual courses correlate well across the two main race types. Skelton has poor records across the board at Cheltenham, Haydock, Newbury, Newton Abbot and Sandown. On the flip side his performances at Ascot, Market Rasen, Uttoxeter and Wetherby have been good – at all four courses you would have made a blind profit to Betfair prices.

He has contrasting stats at Doncaster, Fontwell, Kempton and Southwell – at all four courses he has solid records in chases but relatively poor performance in hurdle races.

Now a look at the same courses comparing handicap with non-handicap results using the same colour coding as before:

 

 

Interestingly, fewer than half the courses have good correlation between their handicap and non-handicap stats. This helps to illustrate why it is good to break down course stats if the sample sizes are big enough.

Here are five of the strongest positive Skelton course statistics I found:

  1. In non-handicap chases at Uttoxeter, Skelton has saddled 10 winners from 21 (SR 47.6%) for an SP profit of £16.44 (ROI + 78.3%);
  1. In non-handicap hurdles at Wetherby, sticking to horses priced 6/1 or shorter his record reads an impressive 33 wins from 65 (SR 50.8%). SP profits stand at £32.39 giving returns just shy of 50p in the £;
  1. Favourites at Leicester have won 13 of their 22 races for a profit to £1 level stakes of £6.57 (ROI +29.9%);
  1. At Fontwell horses racing in chases priced at 6/1 or shorter have secured am impressive strike rate of 44.1% thanks to 15 wins from just 34 runners. Profits to SP stand at £13.40 (ROI +39.4%);
  1. At Warwick horses racing in chases priced at 6/1 or shorter have won 29 of 67 (SR 43.3%) for a profit of £26.68 (ROI +39.8%).

 

Those are good profits to Industry SP across the board and, clearly, using BSP would have improved all of these profits by a few shekels.

 

Dan Skelton Performance by Running Style

A look at running style next. To begin with let us see the proportion of runners that fit a specific running style. Geegeez breaks these running styles into four:

Led – front runners; horse or horses that take an early lead; Prominent – horses that track the pace close behind the leader(s); Mid Division – horses that race mid pack; Held Up – horses that race at, or near the back of the field early.

Here are the splits for Skelton:

 

 

We can see the preferred running style for Skelton is clearly holding his horses up. It should be noted that hold up horses make up around 31-33%% of all National Hunt run styles but Dan's figure of 44.8% is almost 50% above that, which is quite remarkable.

Onto the win success rate of each running style now:

 

 

With just under 13% of all hold up horses winning, it begs the question why are so many runners from the yard held up? His front runners / early leaders have won one in every three races – this means a Skelton front runner has just over 2½ times more chance of winning a race than a Skelton hold up horse. Of course, some of the Skelton horses that are held up might simply not have the early pace to lay up closer to the pace, or may be working towards a handicap mark but, even so, these are powerful differences in performance.

I want to look at favourites now and compare their success rate in terms of run style:

 

 

We see exactly the same pattern here with favourites that get to the lead early having an excellent record. Prominent racers also score an impressive amount; however, horses that race mid-division or are held up early perform well below the norm. If you had backed Skelton favourites that ended up racing early in mid-division or at the back it would have cost you around 16p in the £ to SP. Front running favourites by contrast would have made a small profit, while prominent racing favs would have lost just 5p in the £.

Earlier in the article we saw that Skelton’s record in non-handicap chases (excluding hunter chases) is good. Let’s look at the percentage of runners in these chases that matched each specific run style:

 

 

 

There's quite an interesting difference here when you compare this pie with the ‘All Races’ run style data shared earlier. Far fewer horses have been held up in non-handicap chases compared with ‘All Races’, while over 30% of Skelton runners have been sent to the front early which is more than double the percentage for ‘All Races’. How curious that the stable's non-handicap chase results have been by far their best when comparing them to other race types! Could this better showing be anything to do with run style factors?!

 

Dan Skelton Performance by Jockey

Onto some jockey analysis now and, specifically, a look at any jockey who has ridden at least 50 times for Skelton since 2013, with the proviso that they have had at least one ride for the stable in 2022. I have ordered them by number of rides starting with the most:

 

 

Stable jockey Harry Skelton rides roughly 80% of all the horses from the yard. He also has by far the best record. Indeed if you combine ALL of the other jockeys who have ridden for Dan Skelton since 2013, between them they have scored 216 times from 1745 rides – this equates to win SR% of 12.1% vs Harry's 21.7%.

Backing all Harry Skelton mounts using BSP would have lost you only 2p in the £. That's highly impressive considering he has had more than 4100 rides! Strangely, though, there are no easy ways to profit from the Skelton / Skelton combo despite this excellent BSP starting point. One ‘positive’ worth mentioning is that you would have roughly broken even to BSP if sticking to horses that were 12/1 or shorter (Industry SP) or 20.0 or shorter BSP.

Harry Skelton has similar records in chases and hurdle races but he has been less successful in National Hunt Flat races as the table below shows:

 

 

Losses of over 36p in the £ in National Hunt Flat races are steep. The main reason for this is the fact that bigger priced horses have had a dreadful time in these races – something touched upon earlier when looking at all NHF races:

 

As can be seen, Harry has ridden just one winner for brother Dan in bumpers sent off 8/1 or bigger, from 114 starters.

Finally while looking at jockey Harry Skelton, he rides front runners well, scoring nearly 37% of the time on them (overall figure for the stable was 33% - see earlier graph). Indeed, he seems to ride Uttoxeter extremely well from the front winning 22 times from just 38 rides (SR 57.9%).

 

Dan Skelton: Extra stats and nuggets

With the main body of the article complete let me share some extra stats / nuggets that may be of interest:

  1. His longest losing run over the ten seasons stands at 38. He has had 38 losers in a row on two separate occasions
  2. His least successful day was on Boxing Day 2019. He sent out 17 runners and his best finishing position was 4th
  3. He has saddled back to back winners (e.g. one horse winning and then his next runner winning also) on 209 separate occasions
  4. His most successful day was on 24th April 2019 when he saddled 6 winners from 9 runners on the day
  5. I mentioned in the last article that there are punters around who occasionally back their favourite trainer or favourite jockey and put the selections in doubles, trebles etc. So what have happened if you had backed all Dan Skelton’s runners in trebles on the days when he had exactly three runners? Well, he has had exactly three runners running on the same day 301 times; the treble would have been landed five times. However, due to the fact that most prices were very short, if you had placed a £1 win treble on all 301 days you would have lost a staggering £259.33 (ROI -86.2%). Ouch!
  6. Just over 450 horses have run at least five times for Skelton– of these horses 77% of them have won at least one race

 

Dan Skelton – Main Takeaways

  1. Skelton has been very consistent year in year out with strike rates ranging between 16 and 21%
  2. In National Hunt Flat races generally look for shorter priced runners or horses aged 6 or older
  3. Skelton has a good record in non-handicap chases (excluding hunter chases), especially in Class 3 or lower or with horses aged 6 and younger. Also the shorter distance the better
  4. Horses having their first or second career chase run have positive records in non-handicap chases
  5. Hurdlers aged 9 or older have made a profit; these profits have been particularly good when sticking to handicap hurdles only
  6. Horses priced 14/1 or bigger (Industry SP) have a very poor record across all race types
  7. Uttoxeter and Wetherby are two tracks where Skelton runners generally perform well. At Uttoxeter this is especially true in non-handicap chases, at Wetherby in non-handicap hurdle races
  8. Nearly 45% of all Skelton runners take a position near the back of the field early in the race, of which less than 13% of them go onto win. Front runners fare well generally, especially in non-handicap chases
  9. Harry Skelton takes the vast majority of the rides and scores over 21% of the time. All other jockeys combined have scored just 12% of the time

 

That's plenty of Dan Skelton stats to get your teeth into, both positive and negative. Skelton sends out a good number of runners each week so hopefully this will give us plenty of potential betting opportunities in the coming weeks and months.

Good luck!

- Dave R

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2 replies
  1. stevecockell1973
    stevecockell1973 says:

    Hi Dave,

    Just backed a Skelton runner at Haydock today so was interested to read your article. One area perhaps worth more time exploring is the jockey switch between BA > HS. This is the reason for my bet today and a winning angle last week. I think there is a sense that BA rides horses to get marks or to get runs into horses and then HS jumps on for the main event. Any thoughts or stats on this?

    • Dave Renham
      Dave Renham says:

      Yes Steve I can give you some stats on this – when HS has taken over from BA his strike rate has been 21.2% from just under 500 rides. A small loss to SP; 14p in the £ profit to BSP, BUT three BSP winners in the 30s is the reason for this – take those three out and to BSP losses would be around 7p in the £. However, we should expect the odd big priced winner I guess even though Skelton does not make a habit of big priced winners. Having said all that, if you stuck to handicap races only (when HS is riding after the switch) profits double from a data set that is just over 200 rides less with a BSP return of over 40%. That looks the angle – even taking the three big priced winners into account to industry SP he would now break even and to BSP he would still be in profit by around 30 quid (returns around 10p in the £). Hope that helps. Dave

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