It was very hard not to be impressed with the smooth as silk winning performance of Grand Crus when toying with useful opposition on his chasing bow at Cheltenham earlier this month before striding away to a 10-lengths victory in the Steel Plate & sections Novice Chase, but it is the post-race comments of his jockey Tom Scudamore that might provide a clue as to what lies in store later on in the term, writes Elliot Slater.
On the back of his easy victory over Champion Court bookmakers understandably ran for cover and slashed the odds about the David Pipe-trained grey to best racing odds of 4/1 favourite to win the three-mile RSA Chase (the ‘novices Gold Cup’) at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Dom Alco gelding having proved on a number of occasions last term that he was the only horse in the country with the class and ability to make a race of it with the outstanding Big Buck’s at that trip over timbers, finishing second to the champion staying hurdler at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.
After destroying his rivals over two-miles-five-furlongs on his chasing bow, Grand Crus’ jockey, Tom Scudamore, was not slow to mention that in his opinion the horse would not be found wanting over the minimum trip of two miles, hinting that the option of going down the Arkle Chase route shouldn’t be completely ruled out. Although he raced just a couple of times over the minimum trip over hurdles, it’s worth noting that Grand Crus gave 16lbs and ran the subsequently 150-rated Cheltenham Festival and Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Sanctuaire to just four-lengths in a Taunton novice hurdle in February 2010, a run that proves he has the speed to mix it at a high level over the bare minimum trip.
It’s well known that to win the Arkle you need a horse that can see out up to two-and-a-half miles (especially if the ground is testing), so those who bet on racing should bear this in mind and possibly hedge their bets in case Pipe decides to heed Scudamore’s words and have a change of direction with this potentially top-class chaser.