Tom Scudamore thinks The Package can deliver in his latest blog
Looking back to last Saturday, I was really pleased with the way Monetaire ran. He jumped a lot better and all the practice that we’d done with him had clearly helped. It was a good performance over two miles and I’m sure he’ll get further. He’ll be entered in a few races next week, he’s in a hurdle at Leicester next Friday, and I imagine he’ll get entries at the December meeting at Cheltenham too. David will decide where he runs but he’s fit and well, he’s gone up 10lbs, and hopefully there’s more to come.
Ballynagour was disappointing and he has disappointed us before. I wouldn’t put it straight down to the trip. He’s going to have to bounce back but then again he has bounced back before. I thought overall the Hennessy was a solid race and the winner, Many Clouds, has done it well. The further they went, the better he went, and if it did come up soft at Cheltenham for the Gold Cup then he’d be bang in the mix.
I’m heading to Aintree on Saturday where I ride Beast of Burden in the first, the 12.00pm. He was very impressive at Ffos Llas. He went there with a big reputation and he certainly showed why. This is a competitive little race, but I’d be hoping he’ll be bang there at the finish and take some beating. I’ve never actually been down to Rebecca Curtis’s yard but she always has her horses in good order and she’s a good lady to ride for. She obviously uses AP (McCoy) and Barry (Geraghty) when they’re available but when they’re not available I get a fair few rides for her as well. She’s a very nice person to ride for.
I ride Big Casino for Nigel Twiston-Davies in the 1.00pm. I have ridden for Nigel a lot in the past and he’s a good man to ride for. In fact just before I got the job with David (Pipe) I was going to go and ride for Nigel but then the David job came up and that was that. Big Casino probably has a bit to find and is a bit high in the weights but hopefully he’ll run well. It’s a competitive race and he’s got a bit of improvement to find.
It’s nice to get some nice spare rides as well as riding ours. When things are going well I don’t just find I’m picking up more rides, I find I’m picking up better rides. When there’s a spare going when you’re riding winners your name is in the hat and then you can keep that momentum going. It’s just the way it is. Success breeds success. The majority of trainers have their chosen jockeys and they will use them but when there’s a gap, and you’re riding well, then you’re in a prime position to fill it. On busy Saturdays that’s particularly the case. There are four meetings on this Saturday and on days like that there will always be good spares going and it’s nice to pick up some good rides, and hopefully then I’ll have some winners.
In the big race, The Becher Chase at 1.30pm, I ride The Package. He ran a great race in the Grand National for a long way last year, and is obviously dropping back in trip in this race. I wouldn’t be too disappointed with his last run at Cheltenham. He ran OK given the ground probably was too soft for him. You don’t have to look back very far to see some very, very good form. He’s 2lbs lower than when he was placed at the Cheltenham Festival last March and I can really see him running a massive race. I know he’s eleven but he hasn’t got many miles on the clock. To be honest I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race.
The Package is a real old favourite of ours and he’s very popular in the yard, and he’s also been very good to the yard. He’s run a whole bunch of good races; he’s won the Badger Beer Chase, he’s been placed at the Cheltenham Festival three or four times without getting his head in front, indeed he was beaten just a neck by Chief Dan George one year many years ago. He’s always held his form and on what he showed last season there is still a big prize in him and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that’s this Saturday in the Becher Chase.
My mount in the 2.05pm, Handmaid, looks like he’s got quite a lot to find. He has only got 10 stone to carry but is a bit out of the handicap. He’s very well bred, related to Hand In Hand, Granville Again and Morley Street so if it finds some inspiration from his relatives then he’ll hopefully go well but realistically he’s got it all to do.
He’s running over the same course and distance as when Morley Street and Granville Again finished first and second in the Aintree Hurdle. My memory of that race is one of disappointment, seeing Dad get beaten on Granville Again. It was the day of the void Grand National and Dad was just about to pack up as well. We knew it was going to be his last National. Nobody else knew it, just the family as he’d told us at the beginning of the week that this would be his last Aintree. It was great for Graham Bradley to win with such a great ride on Morley Street but it was a sad memory for me as at that stage we were hoping that Dad was going to go out on a really big winner and it didn’t quite happen.
In the 3.15pm I’m on Poole Master. He looks high enough in the weights but he has run round this place a couple of times and seems to like the fences. He ran OK in the race last year but he’s higher up the handicap. The handicapper has basically pummelled him for winning his two races last year. Rolling Aces staying in has kept the weights down so at least he’s got a decent racing weight. Hopefully the unique nature of Aintree will be to his liking and he’ll run above himself.
I’ve got a good completion record over the Grand National course but I’ve only been placed a couple of times in Becher Chases. I absolutely love it though. It takes you back to when you were a kid again and you are just going round taking fence after fence, just like when I used to ride my ponies over hedges, letting fly. It gives me a tremendous thrill and I’m really looking forward to it.
Aintree should be congratulated for what they’ve done in terms of the modifications to the fences. The bases of the fences are better although I would like to see them built up a bit more because I think the bigger the fence the more they’ll be respected. The worst thing they can do is allow the horses to go quicker. Of all the stats the most interesting one I find is that between 1960 and 1970 no horses were killed in the Grand National, and that’s when they had been modified the first time and they were still very big. It’s a great race and one that we should be very proud of and I feel very strongly in that respect. It really annoyed me that when people knocked the race the people who were supposed to be running the sport didn’t stand up for it. It seems in a good place at the moment and that is down to the Aintree Executive. They deserve a lot of congratulations for that because they were left out on a limb and were let down by a lot of people.
David has two running at Sandown. Azza runs in the 12.50pm. She won during the summer but going chasing hasn’t quite worked out for her. She has probably got it all to do off that weight but by Sandown standards it’s not that tough a race. Kieron takes some weight off, and least that will be in her favour.
In the 1.20pm Home Run steps up in trip to 2m 6f and that will suit him. He likes it round Sandown and he particularly likes the stiff uphill finish. Last year in this same race he split Saphir De Rheu and Whisper so a repeat of that run would see him hard to beat. Sandown will definitely suit him more than Newbury and I wouldn’t discount him. He is a bit of a monkey but he’s a good monkey and I am confident of a big run
Looking further ahead to the King George on Boxing Day, I really hope Tom Segal, (The Racing Post Pricewise tipster) is right about Dynaste (Segal tipped him for the race during the week). Dynaste seems in really good order. Hopefully the Betfair Chase run will bring him on. He’ll have to improve on that but in the end I wasn’t too disappointed with him. My initial reaction after the race was big disappointment as I really thought he’d win it, but on reflection he actually ran a good race. I agree totally with Tom that there is not between the top three mile chasers, Siviniaco Conti, Cue Card and Dynaste, and Champagne Fever still has to step up into that sort of bracket. It basically is a case of whoever is in the best form on the day will win it. They are all capable of beating each-other and Dynaste is probably still good value.