Dan Skelton tells us what it takes to train 200 winners in a season
It has taken a lot of hard work and consistency every single day. It can be very easy to presume that because you’re a big team that there is almost a factory floor approach to training. That couldn’t be further from the truth because every horse matters.
To get to 200 winners, every single one counts and is important. The staff have been so professional, consistent, and brilliant in keeping up this incredibly high performance for the last twelve months. It’s remarkable.
I am very motivated by numbers. I think it’s the easiest barometer to set yourself because the numbers can’t lie and you get a direct bearing for where you are. I really enjoy that and the stability of that type of challenge.
Going forward, you don’t set out and say; ok we are going to beat that record again because I think it would frustrate everybody. We have to let this sink in before moving on.
We are going to celebrate this one. We are only the second trainer ever in the UK over jumps to get 200 winners. The other one was Martin Pipe which says exactly all you need to know about how difficult it is.
Going forward, we need to keep up a high level of professionalism and dedication that we’ve shown this year and in years before to try and maintain that level. If we can get to 200, fabulous! However, if we have 180 winners next year it’s not exactly been a bad year!
I won’t keep saying we will beat it again every year because there will come a point when it becomes impossible to do it and you don’t want to frustrate yourself, your staff, your owners, your suppliers, and everyone by setting too many targets. Obviously I would like to try and do it again.
We want to increase our portfolio of Grade One horses; we want to be having runners in the Ladbrokes Trophies, The Grand Nationals, and so forth. We want to give everyone who supports us the days they deserve and continue to give our horses the chance to achieve their very best.
If their very best is winning two races in the summer and reaching a mark of 100 then we want to do that. If their very best is that they can reach over 160 and win a Grade One then we want that to happen too.
We understand that every horse has a certain ability and every horse has a place in our team. I think people have recognised that, instead of presuming we are just a numbers outfit. We really do try our hardest with every horse.
We won our first Grade One with Roksana, landed the County Hurdle with Ch’Tibello, reached 200 winners this season but it’s hard to pinpoint a highlight and what the exact moment was.
I remember back in the summer we were winning with horses that we thought would never win and then you win with them and think that’s a remarkable team effort. Then you have a race like the County Hurdle which we love targeting and to do that again was magic.
Roksana winning her first Grade One in strange circumstances was an unusual feeling but it still counted. Then to get 200 on a day when you have six winners was such a brilliant way to do it. We didn’t just trip over the line, the whole team ran through the tape and took it with them!