Tom Scudamore looking forward to Stars Over The Sea at Cheltenham
I was absolutely delighted to win my first ever race over the Grand National fences on Poole Master in the Grand Sefton Chase last Saturday. It was all actually really straightforward. It was just a great thrill the way he jumped. As soon as he jumped the first fence I knew that I was in for one hell of a ride. He just sized every fence up and didn’t touch a twig. Every time I pointed him at one he just took it in his stride. I was just a passenger really. After jumping the Canal Turn my thoughts went from “this is an unexpected great ride” to thinking “we could win from here now” because the other horses weren’t getting to me. I thought that if they aren’t getting to me by now they’re going to struggle to do so from here.
All I was thinking about as I came down to the last in front is what my Granddad used to say to me, because obviously Dad was never in that position either. Granddad used to say that if you jump the last in front at Liverpool just be careful, pull your stick through to the left hand, get round the elbow, and only then go for everything. I just had that in my mind more than anything else. Jump the last, pick a good line to the elbow and then go for home. I was aware that a horse was coming up behind me. I then heard the commentator say that it was Cedre Bleu and to be honest I was delighted that of all the horses that could be sitting on my girth it was him because of his tendency not to come by.
In The Becher Chase, The Package just didn’t enjoy the experience over the fences as much as he did last time. He was disappointing. I was beaten from an early stage. He’s fine though so we’ll just put a line through the race.
More immediately I was obviously delighted with the way Kings Palace ran and won today at Cheltenham. He’s beginning to fulfill his considerable potential and he now sets a very high standard in the Novice staying chase department.
Looking ahead to Saturday at Cheltenham, I ride Stars Over The Sea in the 12.15pm. It’s his first big test. He’s been winning in lesser company and winning very easily and now he’s taking on a few of the big boys including the likes of Hargam who ran very well here at the November meeting. I’m a big fan of my horse. He’s still got a little bit to learn but he’s been winning despite still being quite raw. He’s got his own way of jumping and he may not look very pretty at times but he’s very quick doing it. No horse as yet has been able to get him off the bridle but I’m sure this race is going to be a different task. I’m really looking forward to riding him. He’s ready for it now.
The ground was good to soft when I walked it on Friday but given the forecast for more rain it looks likely to be soft, tacky ground I imagine. The other thing that will make a difference is if they get the frost covers out overnight because they can make the ground really dead and very tiring. The covers are obviously good news as it means we can race but they also make the ground more testing.
I’m not worried about the ground though. I haven’t ridden Stars Over The Sea on testing ground but there’s only one way of finding out if he acts on it.
I’m interested to see how Solar Impulse runs in the 1.25pm as I beat him on Monetaire pretty convincingly at Newbury. Solar Impulse is only a four year old so there’s no reason to believe he won’t improve again but even if he just runs to the level of form he showed at Newbury I think he’ll be hard to beat as that was a decent race. I’ll be watching with interest.
I ride Easter Meteor in the big race, The Caspian Gold Cup at 2.00pm. Easter Meteor was bitterly disappointing in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month but he is much better than he showed that day. If you took that run out of it, on his previous form he’d be coming here as the favourite. He’s got to bounce back. I rode him during the week and he seemed in really good form but he’s got to go and do it on the track now.
I won on No Buts for David Bridgwater last time out at Newbury but when I spoke to David (Pipe) earlier in the week he told me that he was running Easter Meteor. Whilst there are some occasions when David says that I can ride what I want in these situations, in this instance he said he wanted me to ride Easter Meteor which I totally understand and am more than happy to do. I’m lucky that with the trainers I ride for, like David Bridgwater, they just concentrate on getting the horses to the big races and then worry about who’s riding them. On those odd occasions when there’s a clash, everyone is very understanding of my situation and there are never any ultimatums, so it means I don’t have to try and juggle things to keep people happy.
No Buts is 10lb higher than when he won last time but I think that rise is fair given the way he ran. I don’t think Cheltenham will hold any fears for him. It’s a very competitive race but I’d be disappointed if he’s not there at the end. He’s got a good chance and is definitely one of my main dangers. If No Buts goes and wins without me on him it won’t bother me. That’s just the way it is. If I ride over 100 winners this season the majority of that success will be down to David (Pipe) and he has first call on me. I’m in a very lucky position to ride for the trainers and on the horses that I do. If No Buts wins I’ll feel a pang of disappointment at missing out but then, for the want of a better word, I’ll grow a pair of balls and be delighted for Bridgy and everyone else connected to the horse. That said when I’m in the race I won’t be thinking of other horses I could have ridden as I’ll be completely focused on riding my horse and hopefully running well.
I may stick around to watch The New One in the International Hurdle at 3.10pm unless there’s anything at home that I’ve got to get back early for. I not only expect The New One to win I expect him to win well. Zamdy Man is a good horse and the softer it gets the more it will suit him but I can’t see him beating The New One. I think they’ll be first and second again.
We have a couple of runners up at Doncaster. Border Breaker runs in the 12.30pm and although he hasn’t quite fulfilled his potential he’s definitely getting there. Softsong then goes in the 1.05pm. He ran well to a point at Huntingdon last time. He’s dropping back to two miles and I think Doncaster will suit him. He’ll have a squeak.