Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
JOCKEY Tom Scudamore believes the lightly-weighted Cloth Cap is a worthy favourite for the Randox Grand National at Aintree on April 10.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Cloth Cap heads the betting at 4-1 for the unique four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards contest where he is set to carry 10st 5lbs.
The nine-year-old has raced three times this campaign, which commenced with a third placing in a Class 2 Chase at Cheltenham in October. The Trevor Hemmings-owned chaser followed up with victory in the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November. At his most recent start he won the Listed bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso on March 6.
Hemmings is seeking a record fourth win in the Aintree showpiece, after winning with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015); while O’Neill scored with Don’t Push It in 2010.
Scudamore, whose best performance in 18 rides was when sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017, said: “This season has been fantastic and Cloth Cap has been a tremendous thrill to ride. He keeps going from strength to strength and is a worthy favourite for the race.
“I am really excited by it all. In any other race he would be much shorter than 4-1. It’s a very privileged position to be in to be riding the favourite and I would much rather be riding the favourite than under the radar on an outsider.
“He is favourite for a reason and a very good reason.
“The Grand National was the natural race for him to go for after his win in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He ran very well in the Scottish National as a novice and he is related to some good stayers, so Aintree always looked the natural progression for him. Obviously, Mr Hemmings is no stranger to National glory and the horse was probably bought with Aintree in mind so it is the logical race for him to go for.”
“Jonjo told me he jumps and stays and we got a good start at Newbury. We just took each fence as it came and it was a similar scenario at Kelso. He doesn’t have to make the running. He was up in the van when he ran so well in the Scottish National but I wouldn’t put his performances this year down to the fact he has been able to make the running. He has obviously matured plenty this season and has gone from strength to strength.”
On how to ride Aintree the 38-year-old continued: “It all depends on the individual horse and how the race pans out as to where you want to be. More often than not, the winners seems to be handy but at the same time One For Arthur came from a long way back (in 2017).
“Obviously, Cloth Cap has generally been ridden pretty prominently and I imagine that is what will happen again – why change anything when it isn’t broken?
“He is a pretty versatile and a very intelligent horse. Things will be different with the big field but he has coped with big fields before and it’s just a case of hoping he goes well and you get that little bit of luck.”
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.