Sat, 28 Nov 2020
CLOTH Cap stormed to victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy for trainer Jonjo O'Neill and jockey Tom Scudamore at Newbury on Saturday afternoon.
Consistent jumping helped the 8-year-old pull away from Aye Right in second and last year's runner-up The Conditional, who finished in third place.
After a dominant display, trainer O'Neill was quick to praise the form of Cloth Cap after the race.
"He has been in tremendous form all year," he said. "He jumped brilliantly and all I said to Tom [Scudamore] was that he gets four miles so the rest is down to you.
"It is a great start to the season and it's great for owner Trevor [Hemmings] because he loves long distance chasers and we have been trying to get him up to running in the National.
"He needs the good ground, but I was a bit worried because the lads were saying it was a bit slower today, but it was good enough."
Scudamore, who has won this race on three occasion's now, was confident with his chances in the Grade 3 Steeple Chase.
"I just wanted to get a good start because it's the first time he has really had the ground since he was placed in the Scottish National.
"The important bit was over the first four or five fences because I didn't want to get too far back as I wouldn't be able to get at them.
"Jonjo is just about the best trainer in staying chasers there is. I have won this three times now and we always thought it was a classic, so to come out and win it again is brilliant.
"I sat on him in the week, I schooled him over some fences and it was a great morning because we got a great result.
"It is sad there aren't many people here, but from my point of view you have to concentrate on the job."
In 2018, Scudamore won the race for trainer Colin Tizzard under Sizing Tennessee and in 2008 he handed success to David Pipe on Madison Du Berlais.
"It's an impressive role of trainers to win for, so I am very grateful because Jonjo has been very kind to me," added the jockey.
Elsewhere, it was Floressa who won the Gerry Feilden - handing local trainer Nicky Henderson success in this race once again as Epatante won it last year.
In the opening race of the day, the Mick Quinn-trained Pink Sheets held off the threat from Henderson's Ahorsewithnoname to win.
Trainer Quinn, said: "I am chuffed because she has just improved in every race this year and she has won her last three, so she deserved to take a chance with this grade.
"Jack [Quinlan] schooled her on Wednesday and he felt that she was full of herself and that she jumped beautifully.
"The jumping was impeccable and pace wise it was great and there was enough pace in the tank to see it through," added Quinn.
Quinn bought the six-year-old from West Ilsley trainer Mick Channon and the improvement has been clear to see.
In the second race of the day, the John Francome Novices, it was the Paul Nicholls-trained Next Destination who took the win.
The eight-year-old finished second in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby last month, but went one better at Newbury this time round.
Nicholls said: "It is a credit to the team at home to get him on the course because he has had two-and-a-half years off [due to injuries].
"He went to Wetherby and ran a lot better than we thought, he's got talent and we have to nurture him because he is a very good horse."
Due to the history of injuries with Next Destination, Nicholls was just grateful to see him back out on the course.
"We said the chances of getting him on the track were pretty slim, but we got him to Wetherby and we have had no problems since then."
Elsewhere Cap Du Nord held onto win the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase, ahead of the Alan King-trained Canelo in second and Mellow Ben in third.
Meanwhile it was Flash The Steel who won the fourth race of the afternoon and in the final race of the two-day carnival, it was Zanza who won.