Tom Scudamore on Thistlecrack and his weekend rides
Read Tom’s reaction to the Thistlecrack news and his preview of this weekend’s rides…
Joe rang me to break the news while I was in the car on my way to Wetherby. I saw his name come up on my phone and just assumed he was calling me to arrange when to come down and school Thistlecrack the following week. I was about to crack a joke about him being fined £140 the day before for waving his hands at the start of a race, but straightaway I heard his voice and knew it was something serious. He just said “just to let you know, Thistlecrack’s out”.
It took me a good day for it even to sink in, it really did. I rang Joe back later and had a chat with him, and I spoke to John and Heather Snook. It was really hard to take. I was already preparing. I was watching previous Gold Cups, looking at the form of other horses, and just getting ready to ride him in the race. Then suddenly a big thing that you are really looking forward to is gone. Anyone who works in horse racing knows that these things can and do happen, but it doesn’t make it any easier when they do.
At these disappointing times you always need to put it in perspective. My best friend Guy Disney texted me when he heard to say, “sorry about the news” and “keep your chin up” and kind words to that effect, and this is someone who lost his leg in Afghanistan and whose mate that was sat next to him was killed. It’s so important to have some perspective, even though it felt so awful when the news broke, particularly as the horse will come back from this injury. Don’t get me wrong, it was bloody tough to take. It knocked me for six. But what can you do?
Normally I can deal with disappointment quite well but this was slightly different. We had got so close. The only thing I can compare it to are a couple of occasions when my Dad experienced similar blows. It happened to Burrough Hill Lad in the lead up to Cheltenham, a horse he would have ridden, and it happened to a very good horse of Martin Pipe’s called Out of The Gloom who was odds-on favourite for the Stayers Hurdle but didn’t make the race. My Dad just said the same thing to me. “What can you do?” However upsetting it is, and my god it is upsetting, at the end of the day, what can you do?
“Cheltenham is missing its biggest superstar”
It’s ironic that it seems to annoy people when you play your cards close to your chest and say, “well we’ve all got to get there”, well sadly it’s true, we all do have to get there, and in this instance we haven’t. And there will be more between now and the start of the Festival. It always happens. Lots of trainers will be having sleepless nights.
It was vindication of the decision by Colin and the Snooks to run in the King George VI Chase rather than the Feltham at Christmas, and fortune definitely favours the brave. I’m so pleased they did that. It also perhaps explains why he wasn’t at his best at Cheltenham. He must have been feeling something. Thankfully we’ve found it and he’ll be back next season. Cheltenham is missing its biggest superstar that is for sure.
I still have some horses to look forward to at Cheltenham. I ride West Approach if he runs in the Albert Bartlett, Un Temps Pour Tout wherever he goes, and Moon Racer. David has quite a few for the handicaps, and I will ride some for Neil Mulholland depending on what Noel Fehily rides, so I will be there every day and have plenty of rides. It just happens that my main ride of the week was the Gold Cup favourite, and sadly he’s not running now. Hopefully I might pick a spare ride up in the Gold Cup, as there will probably be more runners now Thistlecrack’s out. If anyone is looking for a spare I’m more than willing to ride it.
On Saturday I head up to Newcastle for the one ride in the Eider Chase at 2.45, Gevrey Chambertin. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could run very well. He ran a much better race last time. I’ve always wanted to ride him in a long distance chase. It doesn’t look the strongest of races and I’m really looking forward to riding him.
I think a Scudamore will win it, but we have three shots at it. My brother trains two for the race, Mysteree and Streets of Promise. All three have got very good chances. If I wasn’t riding Gevrey then I probably would have ridden Mysteree. He will likely start favourite or close to it, but there isn’t much between him and Streets of Promise, and it’s certainly not reflected in their prices. If Mysteree is an 8/1 shot there is no way Streets of Promise should be 20/1. She will improve a lot for her first run.
On Sunday I ride Le Rocher in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell at 3.00. He has a bit to find on ratings, but I see no reason why he can’t run well. The more rain the better and he’s a very talented horse who could spring a surprise.
I don’t know anything about Golden Sunrise, my ride in the last at 5.00. It’s one of Colin Tizzard’s, so it will be fit and will be ready for it.
I was really pleased with Vieux Lion Rouge winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock last Saturday. He now looks the ideal Grand National type. I always think with a true Grand National horse whilst you need to know they’ll stay, you also need to be able to look back through their form and see evidence of class and speed too. As a novice Vieux Lion Rouge has form with the likes of Garde La Victoire over two and half miles around Cheltenham trying to give him 4lbs. That’s bloody good form.
Last year he just wasn’t finishing his races strongly regardless of what trip they were over. Now he’s a different horse. He is staying extreme trips, finishing his races well, running all the way to the line. The way he’s running his races now, I see no reason why he won’t stay the National trip.