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'Remarkable' Harry Skelton on the title charge as four-timer closes gap to five

A stellar 30 per cent strike-rate in February helped keep Harry Skelton firmly in contention in the jockeys' championship race and he moved ahead of Harry Cobden into second place in the standings and within five winners of reigning champion Brian Hughes following his four-timer at Southwell.

Skelton started the day eight winners behind Hughes but Danse Idol, owned by Michael Fennessy, kickstarted his productive afternoon in the 2m4½f mares' handicap chase, before King D'Argent secured a 100th winner for the trainer-jockey combination this season by routing his rivals in the 2m novice handicap chase.

The Highclere Racing-owned Rockstar Ronnie – one of five successful favourites on the seven-race card – replicated King D’Argent by making all in the 2m novice hurdle before Embole breezed to victory in the 2m4½f handicap hurdle to complete Skelton's impressive haul.

The in-form jockey said: "The horses continue to be in flying form and it's a credit to our team. We have plenty to run before the end of the season but it's going to be hard numerically to beat Brian.

"He would have a lot more rides than me but I'll keep trying all the way."

Dan Skelton, who enjoyed his own four-timer in the process, said: "It's remarkable for Harry to be in the title contention given his reliance on our yard, but it just shows what a team effort it is.

"It's a good dynamic for me and Harry as we work well together, discuss the horses and races, but each of us are able to concentrate on the training and riding.

"It's possible for Harry to make a title challenge but there's a long way to go – we'll keep doing what we're doing."

Asked what it would mean for the family should Skelton win the jockeys' title, the trainer replied: "It would be the full Monty! It would mean an awful lot."

Perfect record for Ecossais

Fibresand favourites are the first port of call at Southwell's all-weather meetings but there are course specialists on the jumps track too, as Ecossais took his record at the Nottinghamshire venue to three wins from as many starts in the 3m½f handicap chase.

Ross Turner's mount, trained by Oliver Greenall, repelled the challenge of Faustinovick, who has finished second on his last four starts, by three quarters of a length.

Turner said: "Ecossais was all heart and loves it around here. The flat track suits him, he jumps very well and you often get a fair gallop which plays to his strengths."

Syndicate success for racecourse rivals

Jockey Club Racecourses celebrated a success at the Arena Racing Company-owned track as Docpickedme – one of three horses in their Cheltenham & South West jumps syndicate – landed the 2m4½f maiden hurdle.

He continued the good form of trainer Harry Whittington, who has saddled five winners from 16 runners in the past fortnight, and was the first leg of an across-the-card double on the day for the owners following Hes No Trouble's victory at Wetherby.

Winning jockey Daryl Jacob, who also doubled up on the day aboard Givepeaceachance in the 2m handicap hurdle, said: "Docpickedme will be better suited by a stronger gallop and sounder surface, but he will have learned plenty today."

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