Bob Skelton a great judge of pace

By Mike Dillon

Leading owner David Ellis and Bob Skelton discuss the yearlings on offer at the Karaka sales in January. Picture / Dean Purcell
Leading owner David Ellis and Bob Skelton discuss the yearlings on offer at the Karaka sales in January. Picture / Dean Purcell

Swanston Street, the first Monday in November a decade or two back.

The partner wants to watch the Melbourne Cup parade of the famous of those who have competed in the best horse race in this part of the, no, any part of the world.

Bob Skelton aboard his 1976 famous Cup winner Van der Hum came close and you say: "Gidday, Bob".

"Hey," he replies and brings Van der Hum over.

That was Bob Skelton. Amiable, caring and as friendly as a labrador.

Racing lost an icon when Bob, 81, died in Melbourne yesterday.

More than a decade covering trackwork at Takanini taught you what a wonderful person Bob Skelton could be.

No one was a better judge of a horse's readiness to produce its best on raceday.

Ask Colin Jillings, who rated Bob one of the best trackwork riders he had seen.

Bob was never a stylist in the mode of one of the greats, Brent Thomson. He rode often with a loop in the rein, but he knew how the horse was travelling and he was one of our great staying riders.

Perhaps, typically, he continued to ride work into his 70s in Melbourne.

The word horseman can at times be over-used.

Bob was the epitome. He will be sadly missed.

- NZ Herald

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