Tom Scudamore has huge faith in Dynaste on Boxing Day
On Boxing Day I’ve got two rides at Wincanton and then I’m flying by Helicopter from Wincanton to Kempton to ride Dynaste in the King George and Alternatif in the last. In the 1.05pm at Wincanton I ride Chance Encounter who absolutely hosed up last time out but he’s running 7lbs out of the handicap and he’s taken a massive hike in the weights so will shall see how he goes. He’s probably running slightly out of his class a bit.
I then ride a horse called Batavir in the 1.40pm. He hacked up at Ascot last Friday and runs under a 6lb penalty. He’s been raised 13lbs by the handicapper for that success so is half a stone well-in on that basis. Whilst he won really well at Ascot, we had actually hoped that he might win like that at Leicester the time before but he was disappointing that day. That said sometimes horses from France take a run or two to get going, and whilst it didn’t happen for him at Leicester he made up for it at Ascot. He was up in trip at Ascot but he’d have won over any trip in reality. He was much more like the real deal.
I then jump in the chopper and head to Kempton. David mentioned the idea to me at the beginning of the week. From Pond House to Kempton they fly over Wincanton anyway so David said that if we’ve got enough time they may as well drop me off, ride a couple, then fly me on to Kempton. The helicopter takes 36 minutes so hopefully I’ll be in the helicopter by 2pm and in the weighing room at Kempton by the time the Christmas hurdle is on.
It may sound like a mad dash but if anything it actually makes life easier and less stressful because I’m not having to drive to the races. It makes for a more relaxing morning as I will be able to leave later to get to the races than if I was in the car. The only downside is that when I went to Uttoxeter by Helicopter last week, we had a bumpy flight and I felt ill when I arrived. But that’s about the only time that’s ever happened. It was like being sea-sick. But once I landed it only took five minutes to get over it. Overall it definitely makes life a lot easier. I might have had a couple of rides at Kempton before the King George if I hadn’t gone via Wincanton, but hopefully I’ll arrive at Kempton having had at least one winner and I’ll be in the perfect frame of mind for the big race. That’s the plan.
I’m riding at 10 stone in the first race at Wincanton but that won’t have too much impact on my Christmas Day. I’ll still have lunch, but they’ll be small rations. I’ll go for a run on Christmas morning and have a hot bath on Christmas evening, and should be fine.
The King George is a brilliant race and I’m really looking forward to riding Dynaste. The five British chasers – Al Ferof, Cue Card, Dynaste, Menorah and Silviniaco Conti – are all capable of beating each other on the right day and under the right conditions. The best one is probably Cue Card. The day he won the Betfair Chase that was probably the best race I’ve ever ridden in. He was phenomenal that day, just the end to end gallop that he went. Every time a horse got to him he just went on. He out-stayed Silviniaco Conti and I thought I was coming to pick up the pieces on Dynaste and he just disappeared again. It was an incredible run.
Silviniaco Conti has probably been the most consistent of the big five. Menorah given the way he’s run this season has a chance and Al Ferof has pieces of form that would put him bang there. And my horse, Dynaste, is a hell of a horse. Every one of these horses is capable of beating the others, and we aren’t going to know the answer until between the last two fences. The fly in the ointment is Champagne Fever. He promises to be a fantastic horse but he’s still got to go and prove it. Even given everything he’s done over two and two and a half miles he’s still got to prove he’s going to stay three. There have been plenty of horses in the past that looked like they were going to stay three, and were bred to stay three, that didn’t stay three miles.
Dynaste came back lame from the King George last year. That was his only disappointing run last season and it annoyed me when a few experts criticised Dynaste, one in particular calling him an ‘in and out’ performer. He’s not ‘in and out’. The only bad race he’s run since November 2012 was in last year’s King George when he returned home lame. He’s never let me down and he’s been very consistent. On some days he may not have been quite good enough but he’s a hell of a horse, one of the top chasers in the country. When he won the Feltham he was electric but then he was entitled to do that because as history has shown he was by far the best horse in the race. In terms of the ground he’ll handle anything apart from extremes. He doesn’t want it firm and he doesn’t t want it bottomless, but he won on faster ground at Aintree and the day he won the Feltham it was pretty soft. Last time out ay Haydock it was probably heavier and more holding than he ideally likes. All in all he’s very versatile, very straightforward.
I don’t feel pressure with him. I think he’s the best horse in the country so every time I ride him I just look forward to it. And every time he gets beaten I get disappointed and down because I can’t believe he can get beaten. That’s the faith I have in him. He’s a hell of a racehorse.
I then ride Alternatif in the last the 3.45pm. The owners paid a few quid for him from France and it’s his first run in England. We are going there with high hopes. We’ve done plenty of schooling and hopefully he can prove it on the track. Caroline Tisdall is fantastic. She’s great to ride for and a great supporter of the yard. Win, lose or draw, she’s a great owner. I really enjoy working for her.
I’m looking forward to the Coral Welsh National meeting too. The Welsh National has been a fantastic race for the Scudamore family but not for me personally, at least not yet. My first memory of the race was when Dad won it for the first time on Bonanza Boy in 1988 and I was watching on TV at home. I then remember him winning it again on Bonanza Boy the following year.
The most exciting memory though was when Dad won on Carvills Hill. That was an extraordinary performance. We were at Chepstow that day sat having lunch in the hospitality suite above the weighing room. There was one moment I remember when Sir Peter O’Sullevan is calling the race and he goes from saying Carvill’s Hill is 10 lengths clear on the bend to saying he’s 30 lengths clear. It was just an amazing run. Dad never really did pressure, but I remember the day before that Welsh National, particularly as I cracked my head open at home when I was messing around, and all I remember is that being a really tense time for Dad because of the huge expectations everyone had for Carvill’s Hill. There was a huge sense of relief when it won for all the family as the horse had completely lived up to all the hopes and expectations.