HORSE RACING: Skelton siblings are hat-trick heroes at Huntingdon Racecourse
- Credit: Archant
The Skelton siblings toasted a Huntingdon Racecourse hat-trick which included big-race glory last Friday.
Trainer Dan and jockey Harry landed the Pertemps Lady Protectress Mares' Chase for the second time in three years courtesy of odds-on favourite Maire Banrigh.
The 1/4 shot eased clear to win the £75,000 Listed contest, held over two-and-a-half miles, by 11 lengths from runner-up Dalila Du Seuil. The only other runner, The Bay Birch, was another length-and-a-quarter back in third.
Maire Banrigh is now unbeaten in four starts over fences and is bound for the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
"The owners and ourselves have Cheltenham aspirations and that's where we'll go," said jockey Harry Skelton after the race.
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"We're delighted that she's won a Listed race now. We'll get her freshened up and bang on right for March."
The Skeltons' afternoon got off to the best possible start courtesy of West Cork in the opening two-mile novices' hurdle. The 2/1 second favourite was triumphing over course and distance for the second time.
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The final leg of the treble came in the closing bumper with Third Time Lucki who effortlessly conceded weight to all rivals when drawing clear by three-and-three-quarter-lengths.
The Champion Bumper racess at both the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meeting at Aintree are now potential targets.
The Skeltons did allow other trainers and jockeys a look in during the other four races at Huntingdon last Friday.
One of the most striking performances came in the Pertemps Network Qualifier from Phoenix Way, who was coaxed to a narrow victory under an ice-cool ride from Barry Geraghty.
Returning from a 383-day absence for trainer Harry Fry, the seven-year-old prevailed by a head under a motionless Geraghty and is now widely quoted as 8/1 co-favourite for the £100,000 Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.
Elsewhere on the card, Fergal O'Brien recorded a notable double courtesy of Imperial Elysium and Robyndzone, both ridden by stable jockey Paddy Brennan.
The former took the novices' handicap hurdle over two-and-a-half miles while the latter landed the near three-mile handicap chase.
Racing returns to Huntingdon on February 6 when the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle - a Listed event worth £30,000 is the feature contest.
Tickets can be purchased online at thejockeyclub.co.uk/huntingdon from £11.00 and the action is scheduled to get underway at 1pm.