Slow Start For Skelton

Good morning all,

Business as usual at the top of the trainers jumps table but not quite the dominance you'd expect from Dan Skelton. My take on the main piece plus a selection from Newmarket, which is where I'll be later on.

We’re now well into August and the new jumps season is some three months old. It’s perhaps not a surprise to see Dan Skelton top of the jumps trainers table, but what is a surprise is how little clear he is of the chasing pack.

In some ways this ought not to be a surprise – after all, earlier in the season in an article in the Racing Post, he said that “last season was an incredible achievement and numerically I always knew we would not get off to such a good start this time”. So in his own mind, he knew that he was always going to struggle to match last season’s total of 205 runners. The surprise to me comes in the fact that he’s had so little success during June and July, usually two of his stronger months.

Last year, from April to August, he operated at no less than a 24% strike rate in any month. This time around, it really has been a different story.

May was a decent month, and a 32& strike rate was very much in line with what you might expect. However in June he had just 6 winners from 40 runners, a 15% strike rate. July was better, although a haul of just the nine winners from 37 runners (for 24%) might be a bit low, given how many of his went off very well fancied. Whereas last year punters could almost bank on his short priced ones (you were in profit to level stakes May, June and July) that’s not the case this time around. You were over £22 down to £1 stakes in June and £16 in July. So far in August he’s just 1-10, with five of those ten beaten favourites.

Are we going to see a shift in the way the team operates? Maybe they are concentrating less on actual numbers in the summer months and more on taking down bigger targets through the winter? Given that the trainer has stated that “my ambition is to close the gap on Nicky [Henderson] and Paul [Nicholls]. I’m not going to catch them just yet but I hope to get closer to them in coming years”, it could be that they are going to concentrate more on quality and not quantity. Time will tell, but for the moment, following the yard is not the path to riches it was last year.

Not often I put a favourite up on the Punt but I wanted to be with Outbox (7.10 Newmarket) wherever he ran after a superb effort against Kings Advice at Goodwood last week. Better still, he won't mind if any rain falls today and he gets in here ahead of the handicapper. This looks winnable and I don't think the drop back in trip is a problem.

Good luck with all your bets today,

David.

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