WARWICKSHIRE’s Dan Skelton is one of the country’s brightest young National Hunt trainers and ambassador of Warwick Racecourse.
In his latest Observer column Skelton shares his thoughts as the jumps season starts in earnest with Warwick’s next fixture on November 4.
“Autumn isn’t the only season that October truly heralds the start of – it also marks the advent of the jumps season proper and with a couple of wins already under our belt, including two horses making their debuts for the yard, we are really getting going now.
“The big guns in the yard are still a good few weeks off but they are all doing really well.
“It’s vital to hit the ground running not just winners wise but it gives you an indication that you have got the team where you want them and you can gauge the rest of the horses’ fitness around that. We have got a clear indication that we are on the right track so the early signs are good.
“Our objective for this month is to try and get as many winners on the board as possible without being super hard on the horses and set us up for some bigger targets in November and December.
“By the time you get to November, you start to think about horses that might figure against the better opposition and start thinking about long-term goals and Championship races.
“There are a lot of horses at the end of the month having debuts with a view to going on to bigger things and so it’s important to get the first run out of the way scare free and scar free, and you can move on then.
“We had a few pre-season injuries but nothing horrendous. The general consensus is that the horses are happy, healthy and ready to go.
“We have had a good start to the season after a good summer and we now need to try and figure in the bigger races this winter. Everyone knows what the script is – we just need to go and pull it off.
“We’re fortunate to have some state-of-the-art facilities to optimise the physical well-being of the horses. We have put in four more solariums, we have got a spa, a vibrating plate and have extended the cool down area on our gallop and have rented a new grass gallop so there has been a big improvement in facilities.
“To be honest, the most important thing is your gallops. After that, you are looking for small margins but it’s important to keep up with those small margins because if you get left behind with them a year is a long time in technology.”