Grand National: Cloth Cap ‘a worthy favourite’ for 2021 Aintree renewal

Cloth Cap heads Paddy Power's Grand National market.

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Cloth Cap is “a worthy favourite” for the 2021 Grand National, according to jockey Tom Scudamore.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old is currently available at 4/1 with Paddy Power. He heads to Aintree seeking a hat-trick with Scudamore in the saddle after landing Newbury’s Trophy Chase in November and this month’s Premier Chase at Kelso.

Trainer O’Neill saddled Don’t Push It to victory under Sir A P McCoy in 2010 while Cloth Cap‘s Grand National connection goes deeper as owner Trevor Hemmings has won the race with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

Scudamore, whose best result in the race was sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017, believes all the signs point towards a good run over the iconic fences.

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He said: “This season has been fantastic and Cloth Cap has been a tremendous thrill to ride. He keeps going from strength to strength and is a worthy favourite for the race. I am really excited by it all. In any other race he would be much shorter than 4/1.

“It’s a very privileged position to be in to be riding the favourite and I would much rather be riding the favourite than under the radar on an outsider. He is favourite for a reason and a very good reason.

“The Grand National was the natural race for him to go for after his win in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He ran very well in the Scottish National as a novice and he is related to some good stayers, so Aintree always looked the natural progression for him.

“Obviously, Mr Hemmings is no stranger to National glory and the horse was probably bought with Aintree in mind so it is the logical race for him to go for.”

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Cloth Cap is due to carry 10st 5lb in the 2021 Grand National but is a stone ahead of the handicapper having been risen from 148 to 162 after the success at Kelso, which took place after the weights were unveiled.

A field of 40 runners and riders will go to post on April 10 so there are plenty of dangers lurking in the field – and Scudamore has identified two potential rivals.

He said: “You have got to be very respectful of Kimberlite Candy who seems to have been campaigned with this race in mind, Ted Walsh’s horse (Any Second Now) was very impressive in Ireland the other day and there will be plenty of horses with a chance but I’ll be focusing in Cloth Cap.

“If the handicapper could have his say again we would be 14lb higher so that is a lovely position to be in. It is such a high quality race that you have to respect any horse that meets the criteria and gets a run.”

With an unrivalled prize pot and the chance to go down in sporting folklore at stake, winning the Grand National would be a financial and career blessing.

Scudamore joked: “It would mean probably paying the next two tax bills!

“No, it would be the ultimate pinnacle of my career up to that point. It is the race that you want to be involved in and growing up it is the race that I wanted to win most. It doesn’t add any more pressure on to it having spent your whole career trying to win it but it would just be the pinnacle as far as I am concerned.

“I have spoken to Mr Hemmings on a couple of occasions after Cloth Cap’s wins. He is a tremendous supporter of National Hunt Racing and it would be an honour if I was able to win for him for a fourth time.”

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