‘I’ll have a quiet few weeks’

 

Harry Skelton, former champion jump jockey, will have to end his season early due to a shoulder injury he suffered in a fall at Cheltenham this week.

Skelton sustained the injury when his mount, Cheltenham, fell early in the Grade 2 Silver Trophy Handicap Chase on Wednesday. Although he has not broken any bones, he will have to rest for a couple of weeks following a consultation with a specialist on Friday.

Skelton will not be able to ride in the remaining fixtures of the British season, which ends next Saturday at Sandown. He will finish the season with 96 victories, not being able to achieve a third successive century of winners.

Skelton had a successful season, enjoying Cheltenham Festival success with Langer Dan in the Coral Cup and a big-race double on Grand National day with West Balboa and Midnight River. The leading rider also had a golden spell in November and early December, winning the Betfair Chase on Protektorat for his brother Dan, the Coral Gold Cup with Le Milos and the Becher Chase with Ashtown Lad.

Despite the setback, Skelton remains positive and grateful for his relatively injury-free career. He said that it is just part and parcel of the game and that he will have a quiet few weeks out now.

“It’s been a great season and it was really good to get some big winners, especially that run in the early part of the campaign and to do what we did at Aintree last week as well,” he added. “I’ll have a bit of down time now before returning in the new season.”

 

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‘He’s a phenomenal man’ – jockeys on Tom Scudamore’s shock retirement.

As the weighing room reacted to Tom Scudamore’s shock retirement, jockeys hailed him as one of “the best around.”

After being disqualified at Leicester on Thursday, Scudamore announced on Friday that he had ended his 25-year riding career immediately after returning from a concussion absence caused by a fall at Chepstow two weeks earlier.

With 1,499 victories over jumps in Britain and Ireland and 12 on the Flat, the 40-year-old rider finished his career as the tenth most prolific jump jockey. He had also been David Pipe’s stable jockey since 2007 and had won 13 Grade 1 races, including the King George VI Chase on Thistlecrack in 2016.

Scudamore also won a big race for Jonjo O’Neill on Cloth Cap in the 2020 Ladbrokes Trophy (now the Coral Gold Cup), and the trainer’s son and jockey, Jonjo O’Neill Jr., paid tribute to his former colleague in the weighing room.

“He was a great friend of mine for the last few years and we go way back; he went to the same school as me in Cheltenham. He’s a phenomenal man, very funny and witty but also intelligent. Tactically, he was the best around,” he said.

“He rode some great winners for dad, Sky Pirate at Cheltenham, Cloth Cap at Newbury and Soaring Glory at Ascot. He’s done very well for us and he’s going to be massively missed. He was one of the good guys.”

Fellow jockey Harry Skelton said: “He had a very successful career and was a great competitor who was always tough to beat. I never had a cross word with him and he’s a good guy all round.

“I didn’t see it coming but only he knows when enough is enough and he obviously thought that. I wish him all the best in the future.”

Additionally, Gavin Sheehan acknowledged that retirement had come as a significant surprise to him and other jockeys.

“I found it a massive shock as I thought he definitely had another three or four years in him,” he said. “He’s very fit and confident and was riding as good as ever. He probably just didn’t have the ammo this season.

“My earlier memories of him were he’d definitely keep you in line. He was very professional and great to ride against. He wouldn’t give you an inch, but you wouldn’t ask for one.

“He was tough to ride against as he was always there when push came to shove. It’s sad seeing him go and we’ll miss having him around as he always had a good story to tell.”

Scudamore also won the 2014 Arkle with Western Warhorse and the 2015 Champion Bumper with Moon Racer, two of ten Cheltenham Festival winners for him. His last festival success came in the 2017 Ultima Handicap Chase with Un Temps Pour Tout.

He also won the Scottish Grand National in 2021 on Mighty Thunder for Lucinda Russell and her partner Peter Scudamore, Tom’s father and an eight-time champion jockey, and the Grand Annual in 2015 on Next Sensation for Michael, his brother.

One of Scudamore’s 56 winners from 348 rides this season was a Grade 2 victory on Rock My Way at Cheltenham’s trials day card last month.

 

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