Cap fits the bill for National favouritism – Scudamore

Tom Scudamore isn’t feeling any pressure ahead of his ride on Grand National favourite Cloth Cap, insisting the horse has well and truly earned his place atop the market.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Cloth Cap is as short as 4-1 in places to win the Aintree showpiece on April 10th and his rider believes that price is fully justified.

‘Favourite for a reason’

November’s all-the-way Ladbrokes Trophy win at Newbury catapulted Cloth Cap towards the head of the betting for the Grand National, such was the authority of that success.

His trainer, who lifted the Grand National in 2010 with Don’t Push It, elected for a quiet season and Cloth Cap was not see again for 98 days, whereupon he readily accounted for his rivals in the Premier Chase at Kelso with another impressive display in early March.

His National mark of 148 had been assigned by that stage, and on the back of that Scottish success he has been re-assessed to 162, clearly giving him every claim to Aintree success on paper.

Scudamore said: “In any other handicap he’d be even shorter than that if he was 14lb ‘well-in’ so it’s up to the bookmakers to decide what is a fair price and what isn’t but I’m hoping that come that Saturday evening, he’ll be looking like he was a massive price.”

Market position doesn’t worry me

Prior to Tiger Roll’s second win in 2019, where he started as 4-1 favourite, the aforementioned Don’t Push It (10-1 joint-fav) in 2010 was the last horse to justify being at the head of the betting, after he came in for strong market support on the day of the race and finally ended the quest of Sir Anthony McCoy to win the world’s most iconic steeplechase.

Since the turn of the century the likes of Hedgehunter (2005) and Comply Or Die (2008) have both managed to justify 7-1 favouritism at Aintree.

Tiger Roll was the shortest-price winner of the race since Poethlyn at 11-4 some 102 years ago. Scudamore doesn’t see added pressure in attempting to justify such short odds and suggests any jockey would rather sit on a fancied horse than an outsider.

“It’s a lovely position to be in, a very privileged position to be riding the favourite in the National,” added the rider. “I’d much rather be on the favourite rather than under the radar on one of the outsiders. He’s favourite for a very good reason.”

Tactics not set in stone

Cloth Cap first advertised his claims for this race by finishing third to Takingrisks in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in 2019. He was being readied for a run at Aintree last spring before the pandemic led the race being cancelled.

Both wins at Newbury and Kelso this season have been achieved under front-running tactics. Scudamore said those were as a result of the horse starting well and jumping boldly. He doesn’t believe that making the running is a necessity for a horse that is continuing to progress.

“We got a good start at Newbury and he just took each fence as it came. It was a similar sort of scenario at Kelso but he doesn’t have to make the running,” he said.

“He was up in the van when he ran well in the Scottish National, but I wouldn’t just put it down to the fact that he’s been able to make the running that the improvement has come about. He’s matured mentally this season and he’s gone from strength to strength.”

Victory for Cloth Cap on Saturday April 10th would give owner Trevor Hemmings a record-breaking fourth Grand National success, following the wins of Hedgehunter in ’05, Ballabriggs in 2011 and Many Clouds four years later.

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