On Saturday, Harry Skelton was confirmed as the best in the saddle in National Hunt, claiming the 2020/21 edition of the Jump Jockeys Crown at Sandown.
The Warwickshire pilot, stable-jockey for brother Dan, has enjoyed a frenetic end to proceedings for this campaign, securing his second-best season in the plate with 152 wins.
He overcame former king Brian Hughes in an enthralling head-to-head for the title, becoming only the fourth winner of the trophy since 1996 after the long-term domination of AP McCoy and the recently retired Richard Johnson.
As the curtain on the National Hunt spell drew to a close, we reflect on Skelton’s five finest moments across the 20/21 season.
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Allmankind | Planteur At Chapel Stud Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 5th December 2020
A third Grade 1 for Lodge Hill, this would prove to be a fourth for Harry in the plate following on from his Champion Chase win at the Cheltenham Festival earlier in the year.
Allmankind had won the Finale at Chepstow over hurdles the campaign prior but proved himself as a top-level novice chaser when seeing off a strong field at Sandown on Tingle Creek day.
After a bloodless Warwick debut, the Sea The Moon gelding made all in Esher to maintain his unbeaten start to life over fences on what proved to be a memorable day for his pilot.
Politologue | Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 5th December 2020
Reunited with his Champion Chase winning other half, the likeable Politologue secured a third career Grade 1 under Skelton and a second win in the Tingle Creek.
The Prestbury Park hero put in a similar performance to the aforementioned Allmankind under the same pilot, dominating from the front with a blistering display at the head of the field and running his rivals ragged.
He saw off recent Celebration Chase successor and stable-mate Greanteen in the process, with nine-time winning Grade 1 chaser Altior a late withdrawal from the contest.
Shan Blue | Ladbrokes Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) | Saturday 26th December 2020
Another Alcester novice with a tilt at the elite level on hand, Shan Blue jumped superbly at Kempton Park on Boxing Day to give the Skelton’s a belated Christmas present.
Following a Wetherby double earlier in the season, the Shantou seven-year-old proved himself as the strongest staying novice in Britain when holding Colin Tizzard’s The Big Breakaway at bay in Sunbury-on-Thames.
Over the three-mile trip this campaign, he was undefeated, finishing second at Aintree behind Chantry House at the Grand National Festival.
Protektorat | SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) | Thursday 8th April 2021
Despite underwhelming Wincanton and Kelso performances, respectively, the Saint Des Saints gelding Protektorat made the most of his freshness on Merseyside when plugging on strongest to land the Aintree showpiece opener.
The Skelton’s had gone close on many occasions at the Festival, but ensured that their exploits in the north-west got off to the best possible start.
It kickstarted a memorable day for owners Sir Alex Ferguson, Ged Mason and the Hales’, who enjoyed victories later on in the card through Paul Nicholls duo Monmiral and Clan Des Obeaux.
My Drogo | Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) | Saturday 10th April
The perfect way to begin Grand National Day saw the highly promising My Drogo end his stunning campaign with Grade 1 glory.
Having made his debut at Cheltenham in October in a bumper, he followed up with four successes over timber and a crack at fences very much the plan for next season.
A scopey sort, he has already entered the betting for the Arkle next season, currently the second favourite behind Supreme victor Appreciate It.