Tom Scudamore says Heath Hunter is his best chance of the day
Looking back at Cheltenham last Saturday, I thought Dynaste ran OK. I think we know that we can probably get him better. It was disappointing to get beaten but Many Clouds put up a good performance and we were trying to give a fair bit of weight away to Smad Place. The soft ground wasn’t ideal and I think he’s better on better ground but that’s not an excuse, he was beaten by a better horse on the day. Of course I was disappointed not to win, I always am, but Dynaste is still on course for Cheltenham and the Ryanair Chase, and I still think he’s a worthy favourite. On the plus side he stayed well enough which gives us more options for the future but his form shows that he is best over a stiff two and a half miles which is what he’ll get in the Ryanair.
Un Temps Pour Tout ran really well. I was delighted with him, and he just got a bit tired going to the last. He was as fit as he could be after a long absence but it’s just that the other two, Reve De Sivola and Saphir De Rheu, were proper match fit. It’s one thing taking these horses on in October or November or December without a run but when Reve De Sivola has had two runs under his belt already and Saphir Du Rheu three runs, they were both hard fit. At the weights we’ve got to improve but I was very pleased with him. I think he’ll be better on better ground too so just as with Dynaste, I think there are plenty of grounds for optimism for his chance at Cheltenham in the World Hurdle. The race looks wide open. More Of That sets the standard but which More Of That is going to turn up? There are lots of question marks about many of the possible runners and Un Temps Pour Tout’s form puts him bang there in the mix.
I’m riding three at Ffos Las today. It’s a good track, a bit like Newbury, with two long straights and sweeping bends. It’s a very fair course where the best horse will always win. The fences and hurdles are always well positioned and it’s a good racecourse to ride.
Taj Badalandabad, my ride in the 2.05pm, the Welsh Champion Hurdle, has had a busy year but he’s been fantastic. I’ve ridden him four times and won four times on him. He’s going to have to improve on his run last time at Haydock but I see no reason why he can’t. It’s a competitive race, wide open, and we’re a couple of pounds out of the handicap but he’s a horse with a future and he’s going to continue to improve. I hope he can get back in the right direction today. I have an unbeaten record on him to maintain, and two of them were at Ffos Las. We know he likes the track and he’ll like the ground. I’m always optimistic but I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race.
Virtuel D’Oudon also runs for David in the race and he bounced back to form when winning at Taunton last time. However the handicapper has had his say since. That was a lot more like it from him. He had been disappointing over fences. He’ll love the ground but his new handicap mark is the worry.
I’m on Smiles For Miles in the 2.40pm, the West Wales National. He’s been a revelation since the blinkers were put on him. His win at Newbury last time was a really good run and he’s improving all the while. The step up to three and a half miles should suit him as well and he should handle the ground. He’s just going in the right direction. When these horses start to improve who knows how far they can go, and hopefully this horse hasn’t finished improving. It’s going to be his biggest test tomorrow but the way he has been doing things I think he’s up to it.
Heath Hunter, who I ride in the 3.10pm, is dropping back in trip. He has been disappointing. We had hoped that he’d have won a nice handicap by now. But based on how he ran last time I think the drop back to two miles on heavy ground shouldn’t inconvenience him. He’ll certainly handle the conditions and it doesn’t look the strongest of races. He’s probably my best ride of the day.
I watched Aidan Coleman’s amazing win on See The World at Wincanton on Thursday. His horse wasn’t just hanging it was absolutely lugging to the left. Aidan didn’t even have a chance to switch his stick through to his left hand because it was hanging so badly. He didn’t dare take his hand off the reins, because if he had the horse would have gone even more violently left. The horse was just having none of it. It was some performance for the horse to have stopped to what was basically a walk and then as soon as it had straightened up again then off it’s gone and won. It happened to me once around Exeter but unfortunately I got beaten two lengths that day. See The World has got to be a horse with a big engine to do that. It was quite extraordinary. Fair play to Aidan for keeping him on the track and then getting him balanced and up and running again. He was able to coax him back running and when he straightened him up he absolutely flew. I enjoyed the write up in the Racing Post where the expert said he’d like to see him on a right-handed track. He can’t have been to Wincanton very often.