Improving young striker Gericault Roque faces 14 opponents in a competitive revamp for the Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick, with jockey Tom Scudamore confident he holds a “good chance”.
The player who trained on six-year-old David Pipe has been put on all three starts over fences, including when he was a length and a quarter behind St. Ballet in Newbury last month, with the pair staying 11 lengths behind the rest.
Scudamore hopes to be able to break his duck over the fences at the fourth attempt in the Class III competition, running three miles and five furlongs.
“It was a massive race last time, a young player who is getting better, and he looks like an exciting horse for the future,” said Scudamore.
“He was beaten by a good horse in Newbury and they are both good, improving young horses that have come a long way.
“The rider clearly had his say – he put us in 6 pounds, and the winner went up 10 pounds.
“His last round format worked very well and you want to think he’s going to have a good chance. He’s a horse we’ve always loved.
“It’s a competitive race, but these big hurdles are there, and that’s the level we think he’s at.”
Racing might be a family affair, with his father Peter Scudamore helping eight-time vaulting champion Lucinda Russell, who drives the Korash Rambler.
The eight-year-old is still a rookie and had the option to run in the junior Hampton chase earlier on the card.
However, instead of opting for the three-mile event, he made a hat-trick over that extra distance, having gone on to win the Aintree with another at Cheltenham over the three-mile stretch and one furlong last month.
Scudamore said: “Hampton seemed a really tough job for him and I couldn’t see him hitting Paul Nichols (Threeunderthrufive).
“I think Korac Rambler will need to improve on whatever he showed to win, but there is hope, to make the trip.
“Sad sister won over three miles. There is hope and not too much confidence.
“He was six years old when we bought him to win a race in Hexham – and he won Aintree and Cheltenham, so I’m happy with him. He was a great horse for The Hikers Guild.
“He’s a junior but he’s eight years old and he’s strong enough to do that. He looks good.
“We are looking for a big race, but I often think it is difficult for the higher weights in these long-distance races. He really deserves his chance and is a £100,000 race, so I hope he does one race for Arthur!”
Alan King-trained Notachance won this race last year under Tom Cannon and graduated from the same mark wearing an eyebrow for the first time, having been pulled in three of his subsequent four starts.
Cannon said: “He was so good in the race last year that he got on the crest of a wave. He won his previous race at Bangor and things were going his way.
“He was a rookie horse. He won the Classic Chase, then had a bit of a pit stop next time at Haydock.
“He lost a little bit of confidence and when he went to the Scottish National he didn’t have the best fit to go in, so you can draw a line to the end of last season with him.
“He went to Newcastle for the first time this season and probably always needed to run, but he showed a little bit more at Haydock last time.
“That’s been the plan since the start of the season. It was nice that he showed that a little bit more at Haydock on the last day, and hopefully it’s starting to boil well.”
Evan Williams is hoping the ground will be for No Rematch, who signed last season with an impressive win on heavyweight grounds at Chepstow, but held off on his seasonal comeback in Exeter after 10 months off.
“I think he needed to run,” Williams said. “A lot of us missed the fall because it was so dry. Tomorrow might be dry enough for us and I’ll take a look at the track, because this is a horse that wants proper soft ground.
“I love the horse, but I would say it’s a proper winter horse.”
There are four final-time winners in the line-up including the 11-year-old Head to the Stars who suffered a three-mile handicap at Ludlow last month, after his third on the same trip at Warwick.
Coach Henry Daly said: “He did really well last time. Three miles and five is good for him. He looks like he’s in great shape. He has the potential to throw a shocker for whatever reason, but that’s just him.”
“In Perth, in April, he had a very legitimate excuse. He managed to put his front feet into the open trench, which most people had not seen and was pulled, quite sensibly, but he ran well at Warwick in November and won well in Ludlow. He In good shape “.
In the deep renovation, large yards are also represented by Padleyourowncanoe (Dan Skelton), Achille (Venetia Williams), Eclair Surf (Emma Lavelle), Grace A Vous Enki (Paul Nicholls), Jerrysback (Philip Hobbs) and The Hollow Ginge (Nigel) Twiston Davis).