Scu hoping Monbeg Dude can deliver in Grand style
Trainer Michael Scudamore has based the whole season for his star chaser Monbeg Dude around winning the Crabbie’s Grand National, and he is a 20/1 shot with Coral to land the Aintree showpiece for one of the most famous families in racing.
Michael’s father Peter was champion jockey eight-times, but never won the Grand National in 12 attempts. The closest he came was when partnering Corbierre to finish third in 1985.
His brother Tom is a highly successful jockey based with David Pipe, but has also yet to triumph in the world’s greatest steeplechase.
However, his grandfather Michael rode Oxo to victory in 1959 and is officially an Aintree Legend, and in Monbeg Dude his 30-year-old grandson has a horse who looks to have the perfect profile for the race.
The gelding confirmed himself as a fast improving staying chaser last season, winning a Grade 3 contest at Cheltenham over an extended 3m 3f before landing the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow under a supremely confident waiting ride by Paul Carberry.
He then finished a fair third to Well Refreshed at Haydock, before being pulled up behind Bobs Worth when pitched into the deep end in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
The nine-year-old was then off the track for 218 days before making a highly encouraging comeback at Cheltenham over hurdles when finishing third of 10 to Kings Palace.
He then put in a cracking effort when attempting to retain his crown in the Grade 3 Murphy handicap Chase at Cheltenham when finishing fourth of 13 to Alvarado, before running out the ready at the same venue when beating Theatre Guide by 1 1/4 lengths in a Grade three contest.
He travelled supremely well throughout the latter and only had to be ridden out on the run-in to beat a horse that had previously finished a fine third in the Hennessy at Newbury.
Although he could then finish only fourth when sent off the joint-favourite for the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out, he was not knocked about after a bad blunder at the third and the run should have put him spot on for Aintree as he had been forced to miss his intended prep run in the Grand National Trial at Haydock through a slight setback.
The key to his chances in the 4m 4f contest are if his rider, likely to be Paul Carberry, can get him into a nice jumping rhythm on the first circuit to enable him to be within striking distance at the business end of affairs.
The horse, who is owned by rugby stars James Simpson-Daniel, Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson, is prone to clouting the odd fence but his jumping this season has been far better.
That is down mainly to Tindall’s wife Zara Phillips, a leading equestrian rider, who carried out a series of schooling sessions with him which seem to have worked the oracle.
If his jumping does hold-up then he is going to be a danger to all off what looks a nice racing weight of 10st 9lb.