Both jockeys are set to have lots of rides between now and the end of the Championships so it’s still all to play for.
Find out what both jockeys have achieved this season and what factors will determine will be crowned champion at Sandown’s Jump Finale on Saturday 24th April.
Primary trainers: Donald McCain, Nicky Richards
Brian Hughes described it as a “dream come true” when he was crowned Champion Jockey for the first time last year.
He’s clearly determined for the dream to continue as he attempts to retain the title that made him the first northern‐based champ since Jonjo O’Neill 40 years earlier.
From the start of this season his determination to remain number one, a position wrestled from Richard Johnson, was obvious.
Although Hughes had to wait until more than a week after the delayed restart for his first winner when Jamacho, trained by Charlie Longsdon, won easily at Stratford, he soon made his intentions clear.
A Cartmel treble was swiftly followed by a fantastic four‐timer at Bangor towards the end of July. Five of those seven winners were trained by Donald McCain and they helped Hughes end the month with 12 winners in the bag – twice as many as Harry Skelton.
August was almost as fruitful with 11 winners added to his tally to put plenty of daylight between himself and his rivals.
A brace of Musselburgh trebles, shortly before Christmas and on New Year’s Day, kept the ball rolling in the depths of winter when the bigger meetings were often swerved in favour of easier pickings.
Lake View Lad’s surprise defeat of Santini, Native River and Frodon in Aintree’s Many Clouds Chase in December was one notable victory.
Hughes has been in good form in recent times as well, having banged in a treble at Sedgefield to keep his nose in front of Skelton in the race for the title.
Hughes will have the support of many of the northern-based trainers as they try and help him become champion once again.
Primary trainers: Dan Skelton
Harry Skelton’s quest to be Champion Jockey for the first time is a family affair. His determined title challenge is fuelled by brother Dan’s powerful stable with the pair forming the most formidable partnership in jump racing.
No other rider has ridden more winners for a single stable this season than Skelton. It’s a far cry from eight years ago when, having ridden out his claim to become a fully‐fledged professional jockey, he managed just eight winners in 12 months.
The 31‐year‐old has since passed the century mark for the season on five occasions as he closes in on 1,000 career winners.
A surprisingly slow start to this term put Skelton slightly on the backfoot. He had notched up only 15 winners by the end of September and already trailed Brian Hughes by 14.
The brothers Skelton, based on the Warwickshire farm owned by their Olympic show jumping champion dad Nick, soon clicked into top gear.
A raid onto Hughes’ northern patch for the Charlie Hall Chase meeting at Wetherby at the end of October resulted in four winners, including the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle on star mare Roksana.
A Grade 1 double at Sandown in December ‐ on Politologue and Allmankind ‐ showed there was plenty of quality to go with the quantity.
Five winners over Kempton’s two‐day Christmas meeting, where Shan Blue gave Skelton another top‐class prize in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, was a further statement of intent.
A quiet January when the stable had just 41 runners was the calm before the storm as Skelton banged in 23 winners in February to put himself right back in the title race.
That was impressive but nothing compared with what was to follow in March. Skelton had a trio of four‐timers at Southwell, Hereford and Stratford as 31 winners piled the pressure on the defending champ.
Dan Skelton will be aiding Harry as much as he possibly can from now until the end of the season, he’ll without doubt be entering as many of his horses as he possibly can that are likely to give his brother winners in the hope of securing Harry’s maiden Champion Jump Jockey title.
With plenty of ammunition in the armoury, this year’s Champion Jump Jockey title race looks likely to go right down to the wire.