Scudamore keeping a lid on Cloth Cap frenzy

Last Updated 12 Mar 2021 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Big-race rider Tom Scudamore admits it will be a case of ‘trying not to get carried away’ in the countdown to Cloth Cap’s bid for Grand National glory at Aintree.

The Ladbrokes Trophy hero was already the ante-post favourite for the Merseyside marathon before he won the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso over the weekend.

That latest victory suggests Cloth Cap remains well ahead of his official mark of 148 for the Grand National, where he is set to carry just 10st 5lb on April 10th.

‘Tremendous’ Scottish win leaves Scudamore dreaming

Official ratings suggested Cloth Cap had it all to do in Saturday’s bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso, facing the likes of former Ryanair Chase second Aso and improving chaser Two For Gold, as well former race winner Definitly Red and Lake View Lad, a Grade 2 winner at Aintree in December.

However, Scudamore bounced out in front and made the running and not one of his four rivals could come and claim him. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old was merely pushed out to score, with more than seven lengths in hand on Venetia Williams’ Aso in second spot.

Cloth Cap has shortened into a general 6-1 chance with most firms for the Grand National, but Scudamore suggests he’s very much got to keep his feet on the ground between now and Aintree.

“It would be great,” Scudamore said, at the prospect of winning the National. “But you’re trying not to get too carried away. There’s plenty of racing in between – a big week at Cheltenham coming up, for starters.

“I wouldn’t be one to get carried away too far with it – we’ll just get on, go and do the business as best we can.”

Aintree history for connections

Scudamore has plenty of family history with the Grand National, though his own best finish remains sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017.

His grandfather, Michael, was a Grand National winner on Oxo 62 years ago, while his father Peter could not win the great race despite an illustrious career that saw him crowned champion jockey eight times in Britain.

Cloth Cap’s owner Trevor Hemmings will be bidding for a record-breaking fourth success in the Grand National, with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) having all carried his famous yellow and green quartered silks to glory in the world’s most iconic steeplechase.

Trainer Jonjo O’Neill, meanwhile, was responsible for 2010 winner Don’t Push It, finally ending the National woes of Sir Anthony McCoy when he powered home to win for leading owner JP McManus under ‘the champ’.

Scudamore knows that his mount is a deserving favourite on the back of his Scottish soiree.

“It was a tremendous prep run – a nice race in its own right and he beat some very good horses,” Scudamore added.

“Obviously we had a bit to find at the weights. But he did it very well and at this stage he’s a worthy favourite (for the National).”

Maturing performances thrill trainer

Cloth Cap finished fourth in the 2019 Scottish Grand National at Ayr and his trainer feels there have been real signs of maturity this season.

The news on Tuesday that his revised handicap mark would rise to 162 ensures he’s going to be a stone ‘well-in’ for Aintree next month and, all things considered, it points to Cloth Cap having a massive chance.

Scudamore hopes for decent ground, though his mount is versatile in regards to conditions, with new aggressive riding tactics were the brainchild of his trainer.

“Obviously, you’d want nice ground for the National – but we’re not in control of those things,” the jockey added. “Jonjo and everybody at Jackdaws Castle had him in fine fettle and they know what it takes.

“That (making the running) was down to Jonjo really. He just said ‘he jumps and he stays’. Both times he’s been able to go a gallop and he can maintain it – he’s obviously got form over four miles, from the Scottish National.

“Jonjo thinks the horse has matured an awful lot in the last year.”

Find Cloth Caps and other 2021 Grand National Runners odds here!

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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