Tom Scudamore is hoping to emulate his father by winning today’s Paddy Power Gold Cup on David Pipe’s Grands Crus as the pair clash with fairytale horse Hunt Ball.
Scudamore’s father, Peter, won the 1988 version on Pegwell Bay and Grands Crus is looking to bounce back from a below-par run in the RSA Chase in March.
If his work on the gallops is anything to go by that should not be a problem, according to Scudamore.
“I’m looking forward to it. I had a sit on him last week. He’s in good order,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough, competitive race, but I’m very happy with him and wouldn’t swap him for anything.
“From an early stage he wasn’t his normal self in the RSA, but he wouldn’t be the first horse to bounce back from that race.
“I’ve got maximum belief in him and hopefully he’ll show it tomorrow.”
No horse has risen through the ranks in recent years quite like Hunt Ball, whose career is becoming the stuff of legend after his 88lb improvement.
Trainer Keiran Burke and ebullient owner Anthony Knott are hoping the dream can continue.
“I’m a bit nervous, but I’ve done all my work now and it’s down to the horse and jockey on the day,” said Somerset-based Burke.
“Hunt Ball is a very laid-back horse and you have to make him work.
“We won’t know if last season has left its mark until he runs on Saturday.
“I don’t think it has – he feels brilliant.”
The JP McManus-owned Quantitativeeasing finished second last year and takes his chance again for trainer Nicky Henderson.
He won the Spinal Research Atlantic 4 Gold Cup at Prestbury Park the following month and while two subsequent unplaced efforts saw him drop a little in the ratings, he is still competing off a 9lb higher mark.
“He ran a blinder in the race last year and he seems to run well fresh,” said Frank Berry, McManus’ racing manager.
“Nicky is very happy with him and we’re hoping for a good run again.”
The McManus-Henderson team have a second string to their bow in Nadiya De La Vega, who was a winner at this track last month.
“She won well there the last day but this probably looks a bit better race,” Berry said.
Henderson has a third runner in the shape of Triolo D’Alene, for whom Barry Geraghty is attempting to get down to 10st 1lb.
“The last time I did it was at the Galway Festival and you might remember it nearly came off back in November 2010 when I did the 10st 1lb on Burton Port when we were second in the Hennessy Gold Cup,” Geraghty told his www.attheraces.com blog.
“We’ve now got a 13lb pull with Hunt Ball (from March) and although that won’t be enough on paper, I’m absolutely certain you didn’t see the real Triolo D’Alene that day because his wind wasn’t right.
“He didn’t run anywhere near the form that had won him two chases in France and one at Ascot.
“Nicky Henderson has seen to that and I was delighted with him when he came back to run eight lengths second to Zitenka at Market Rasen in May.”
Al Ferof paid the penalty for trying to force the pace against Sprinter Sacre in the Arkle in March but trainer Paul Nicholls retains the faith.
“He goes well fresh, he jumped well for Ruby (Walsh) in the week,” said the Ditcheat handler.
“While it’s a tough task at the weights, if he’s going to be a genuine Grade One winner of the future he has to be going close off that mark – and the same applies to Grands Crus.”
Divers has run several good races at the track and was third in the race 12 months ago.
“Let’s hope the rain misses altogether, that would be better,” said trainer Ferdy Murphy. “He’s in great form. He schooled on Tuesday and worked well on Wednesday. I’m very happy with him.”
There are three Irish-based raiders, the highest profile one being Forpadydeplasterer, placed in many major races since his last success in the Arkle Trophy in 2009.
“He’s A1. He went over there on Thursday morning. He ate up, everything’s 100%,” said his trainer Tom Cooper.
“He’s a seasoned campaigner now and having his first handicap and the handicapper’s been very kind to him.
“I’m very happy with him, we’ve got a top man (Paddy Brennan) on board and he’s not out of place by any means.”
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