Keeping things simple can often be the best route to glory, as Tom Scudamore demonstrated with a fine front-running ride aboard Cloth Cap to secure a record-equalling third Ladbrokes Trophy success at Newbury.
Rarely will victory in one of jump racing’s flagship contests have much smoother than it was for the 38-year-old aboard Jonjo O’Neill’s charge.
While it is the final result that counts, getting a good start can often be overlooked – a factor Scudamore believes was key to the pair’s triumph.
Scudamore said: “I just wanted to get a good start. It’s the first time he has really had the ground since he was placed in the Scottish National.
“I just thought the important bit would be in the first four or five fences, as I didn’t want to get too far back and as I’d never get at them.
“When he winged the first ditch, the second fence, I was thinking I could be in for quite a thrill here, and so it turned out. It was great, very straightforward.”
Getting down to 10st can be difficult for some jockeys, not for Scudamore though, who barely had to break out of his regular routine in order to take up, what would turn out to be, a rare winning ride for O’Neill.
He added: “Siruh Du Lac was taken out at the entry stage, I had ridden for Jonjo a little bit in the past and a bit more for Mr Hemmings and they wanted someone that could commit and do 10st.
“Richie (McLernon) was claimed for Regal Encore and Jonjo (O’Neill junior), with it being 10st, wouldn’t be able to do the weight, so it worked out quite nicely.
“I’m always quite fit and I wouldn’t be letting my weight get away with me, so it wouldn’t be a problem. I was still able to have something last night and just sit in a hot bath for half an hour this morning, but nothing too bad.”
Having eclipsed his father Peter’s tally of two wins in the race, Scudamore was delighted to be able to give O’Neill, who failed to win the three-and-a-quarter-mile prize as a rider, his first victory in the Grade Three as a trainer.
He added: “Jonjo is just about the best trainer of staying chasers there is. He has won the Grand National, Irish Grand National and Gold Cup, he beat me (as a trainer) in the Gold Cup and I forgive him now!
“I’ve won it for the Pipes, Tizzards and Jonjo and that is quite an impressive roll of trainers to win a big race for, so I’m very grateful and Dad and Jonjo go back a long way.
“He has always been very kind to me, so I’m pleased I’m able to reward his faith with a nice winner.”
The stands may have been sparsely populated with only a small number of owners, trainers and racecourse staff dotted about, but it failed to take the gloss off the victory for Scudamore.
He added: “It is sad there are not many people here, but from my point of view, you have to concentrate on the job in hand.
“Yes it would be nice for other people to be here and great for the racecourse, but in the circumstances racing has done a great job.
“Growing up, I always felt it was one of the classic races. To come out and win this again is a great thrill, as it is one of the best races on probably the best course to ride.”