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Skelton to branch out on his ownHeadlines
Dan Skelton (right) with Paul Nicholls and Denman

Dan Skelton is to leave his position as assistant to champion trainer Paul Nicholls in May and set up on his own at his father Nick's farm in Warwickshire.

Skelton has decided to take the plunge and apply for his own licence after nine years as Nicholls' right-hand man.

"This was not an easy decision to make, but after a lot of thought and discussion I have decided that in May 2013 I will embark on gaining my trainers' licence from the BHA," said Skelton.

"The hardest part of this decision is no doubt the fact that I will be leaving a great team, and a great boss who, at the age of 19, welcomed me into full-time employment and the full-time excitement of National Hunt racing.

"Paul showed me great confidence and faith when taking me on as assistant with no experience, and has nurtured me into the person and professional I am today.

"With nine years of top-class, championship-winning, experience I feel I am ready to make a start myself and will do so from my family home in Warwickshire with the support of my wife Grace, my father Nick and brother Harry.

"We have been granted permission for stabling and a six-and-a-half furlong uphill all-weather gallop near Alcester on my father's equestrian property. And, whilst this is a new venture, we aim to use all of our experience to build a top-class facility for horses and owners.

"There was never going to be an easy time to leave Ditcheat, and Grace and I cannot thank Paul, Georgie and the Barber family enough for having us. We are very excited about our future and I hope I can do justice to the training and education I have received from Paul."

Nicholls told "Late last week, Dan spoke openly with me and Clifford about his plans for the future. After our discussion, Dan wanted to, and will, stay in his current job and maintain his role as assistant until the end of the season.

"Tom Jonason, who has been with us for three years as our pupil assistant trainer, will shadow Dan until May and will take over his position full-time at that stage. I wish Dan all the best. He is a great friend above all else, and I am incredibly proud to have played a part in Harry Fry's and Dan's progression to the training ranks."

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