Scudamore takes advantage of easier going at Bangor
Bromsash trainer Michael Scudamore is of the old school, having learnt his trade with his champion jockey father and Grand National winning grandfather. So it's been no surprise to see very few runners from his yard during this month when rainfall has been scarce. But oh my goodness, didn't yesterday's rainfall flush out those who have been waiting for the ground to ease. Good ground easing to good-to-soft is a merry tune for a majority of Jumps trainers, cognizant of the frail thoroughbred's legs.
In fact, a look at the top six trainers in a normal year's Championship would barely see double figures of runners during the summer months among half of them. There's rarely a sign of Messrs Nicholls or Hobbs in mid-summer, and Championship chaser Dan Skelton has been noticeable by his absence this summer too. Among the top flight, only Henderson, Jonjo O'Neill, Twiston-Davies and Fergal O'Brien are regularly at the races for the summer programme.
So what looks like a fortuitous winner in the Yorton Mares' Novices Hurdle today at Bangor for Saturn 'n Silk was only Michael's third winner of the term from 37 runners from what amounts to a fairly moderate bunch of summer jumpers. Whilst making all, the six year old bay mare was left in front after being headed when Fergal O'Brien's Tequila Blaze tipped up at the last.
This though is a stable that will come into its own once the ground eases consistently everywhere. Twenty-three winners last season generated winnings of nearly £1/4 million in prize money, and horses like Do Your Job, Some Chaos and Caldwell led the charge. The former, second to Belfast Banter in the Grade I Betway Top Novices' Hurdle at Aintree must surely hold high expectations. Races like the Greatwood may be on the agenda. Younger brother Tom picks up a majority of the rides.
Perhaps it's a Herefordshire natural conservatism, but the traditional approach to running horses runs strong in the county and the further west you travel. Venetia Williams is rarely seen on a racecourse before a leaf has fallen, or she can get a glamorous winter coat from the wardrobe; Henry Daly near Ludlow is a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist and no apologist for it either! And whilst the summer programme is commendable in many respects, its omission by plenty of the top yards allows trainers further down the food chain a chance at some half-decent prizes.
What a contrast then with the competitive nature of early season Point-to-Point racing! Races until the end of January take some winning with large fields and plenty of young horses vying for a position in the top yards. Once the mainstream season gets into gear, and fixtures come thick and fast, horses and people can readily avoid each other, and races take less winning.
Meantime, plans are well developed for Knightwick's new place in the pre-Christmas calendar, starting the West Mercian area on November 14th. Save the date now and we'll keep you posted when tickets become available.