Tom Scudamore wouldn’t swap Kings Palace for anything else
Of the three I rode yesterday, they’ve all run well to a point. Dell’ Arca ran best of them. Giving weight to More Of That will probably prove to have been an impossible ask. He’ll probably mix and match between hurdles and chases through the winter. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him run in the top quality hurdles when the likes of Faugheen scare everything away. La Vaticane was a bit disappointing. When we turned into the straight
I thought we’d go close. She didn’t quite finish today but she jumped well. She promised a great deal for the future. Champers On Ice was a bit novicey. He’ll improve for the experience and will improve over further. Take nothing away from the winner, Shantou Village. I won a bumper on him and he’s a very good horse.
It was a good if a somewhat frustrating day. They’ve run well but I was a bit disappointed I didn’t manage to ride a winner. On the upside I didn’t come in saying “my knee’s hurting” so that’s the most important thing. I feel fit. I don’t feel like I’ve been away.
The ground was good to soft, a bit more tiring on the hurdles course. Clearly if we get more rain it will get more testing as we will be running on the same ground. I have a little gripe with racecourses that they sometimes look to save some of the course and it means that the course we’re riding on is narrower than it needs to be. Hopefully they won’t save too much ground as that can present issues in big fields.
I grew up 20 minutes from Cheltenham so it’s a very special place for me. It has always had a great charm about it but when you leave it after a day out you wouldn’t say you’ve been somewhere special like the Emirates, or the new Wembley or the Millenium Stadium. Those stadia show you the level that major venues now aspire to. Here at Cheltenham it has always been the Wembley of racing in terms of importance. Nowhere gets the crowds that this racecourse attracts at every meeting. And now this new grandstand looks like a state of the art sporting venue. Cheltenham now has the facilities it deserves given the crowds it gets.
Today I ride Un Temps Pour Tout in the 1.15pm at Cheltenham. He was a high quality hurdler last year, and he won the Champion Hurdle in France. He’s schooled well and this looks the ideal opportunity for him. He’s taken to chasing well at home and if he’s as good over fences as he was over hurdles then he’ll be an exciting prospect. He gets all the penalties. I rode Blaklion last time and he jumped well and felt decent but I think Un Temps Por Tout should be just a little bit better.
I’m on Soll in the 1.50pm. He’s a ten year old and ran a good race in the Grand National. He won a couple of nice races last year but as a result he’s much higher in the weights now than when he started last year. He’ll love the trip and you know what you’re going to get from him. There may be something in the field with younger legs who’ll beat him but at least you know what you’re going to get from him.
Kings Palace my mount in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at 2.25pm has schooled well. I’m very pleased with him. I wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race. Yes I respect the others. Monetaire is a very good horse.
He’s a good handicapper. But generally this race is won by horses who step up from handicaps to graded races, and this time last year we believed Kings Palace was a graded horse, and nothing we’ve seen since has changed that opinion of him. Irish Cavalier is another that fits that mould. He’s not flashy and yet his form since he won at Cheltenham has improved again. He’s gone from handicap company to graded company and ran two great races at Punchestown, and last time out he absolutely hosed up. He’s only six and when these horses start improving they can keep progressing. He’s a similar profile to Kings Palace in that both he and Kings Palace could step out of handicap company and mix it in top company.
Next Sensation for my brother has to prove he stays 2 and a half miles. I’ve always felt that he would get this trip. He’s a very enthusiastic two mile chaser but if he gets two and a half miles then he’s got a chance and he’s probably over-priced.
I ride Batavir in the 3.00pm. Last year I was a little bit disappointed with him at Leicester as I thought he’d win. He then won much better races at Ascot and Wincanton before disappointing me at Doncaster. He wasn’t at his best that day but I took on a horse of Nicky Henderson’s that day that kept on going. That horse was Call The Cops who went on to win at the Festival so there was no disgrace in that. I think he’s got a good chance. I sat on him during the week and was pleased with him. He looks the ideal horse for this race.
Gevrey Chambertin also runs in the race. He hasn’t been in the best form of late but ran better last time at Newton Abbot. He has the ability to do it and is coming back down in the weights. He is an enigmatic character. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him win. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish last.
Hebert Park in the 3.35pm is my last ride of the day. He beat Qualando around Exeter which turned out to be a hell of a run. I was a little bit disappointed when he was then beaten around Taunton. It wouldn’t have suited him though and the horse that beat him went on to win more races. Herbert Park then finished the season winning at Kempton. We always tend to run a nice horse in this race so hopefully Hebert Park will be one of those.
On Sunday I ride Bidourey in the Greatwood Hurdle. He really surprised me last year as he won at Ffos Las with a penalty and then wasn’t that impressive when he won at Fontwell. But then every run he kept on improving. He didn’t run his race in the Imperial Cup but he’s one of those horses that is nothing flashy, nothing special, but he wins. Let’s hope he keeps that going on Sunday. It’s a tough race. He shouldn’t be underestimated.