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Tom Scudamore Weekend Blog: He's the one I'm making the trip to Kelso for

14 Jan 2023
Not the busiest weekend in terms of rides, but I’ll certainly be busy in the car, as I have two rides at Warwick on Saturday, then it’s north of the border on Sunday as I head to Kelso for another two there.

I head to Warwick first for one of their biggest days of the year. I’ve always found that particularly over fences, Warwick is one of the quickest tracks in the country. Those five fences down the back come up so fast, and that seems to be where the races are won and lost. It’s a very good track for young horses, and it’s no surprise that you see plenty of Arkle winners having had a spin round Warwick, which is something Jonbon obviously did this season.

It’s then off to Kelso, which is a track I’ve always enjoyed riding. It’s a funny place because it can either get very soft or very quick there, but it looks like it’s going to be very testing on Sunday. The chase course would be a lot stiffer than the hurdle course because you swing out a lot wider down the back, but the hurdle course can be quite tight, so you can get away on one from the front if you’re clever.

SATURDAY

12:40 Warwick – Ocean Heights

My first ride of the day is Ocean Heights in the opening contest at Warwick. He makes his handicap debut in this, and it doesn’t look like there’s too many runners. He did disappoint us last time at Ludlow, but that was his first run for a while, so he’s entitled to come on plenty for that.

It’s his second start after wind-surgery, and I do find that the majority of horses improve on their second start after the operation. That first run just teaches them that the breathing issues they’ve previously had have improved, so on that next run, they are often willing to push themselves that bit harder as they know they shouldn’t be in any discomfort.

15:35 Warwick – Lieutenant Rocco

He’s another who disappointed last time when well-beaten at Taunton, but he was better the time before that at Fontwell, and he is the type of horse who could bounce back to form. All of his wins have come on heavy ground, so you’d have to say the more rain the better for him.

You’d have to respect Ashtown Lad, but this wouldn’t be as strong as some of these other Pertemps qualifiers, so if the rain does arrive, then he could certainly have a live each-way chance.

SUNDAY

14:00 Kelso – Highlander Hill

This doesn’t look the strongest of races, but you’d have to say he has plenty to find on form with a few of these. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could improve for his first few outings, but it will need to be a big jolt of improvement if he’s going to get off the mark here.

He’s trained by Paul Robson who has only recently got his licence, but he’s had a bit of success on the quiet. Paul has been a good friend of mine for a long time, and he’s a very capable operator, so even though he only has a small team currently, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of success going forward.

15:00 Kelso – Just Don’t Know 

He’s not a horse I’ve ridden before, but you only have to go through his form to see that he he has a big chance in this race. He has a good record at three miles, and he’s a bold jumper which should stand him in good stead round Kelso.

It’s a valuable contest, and if I’m honest, he’s the one I’m making the long trip to Kelso for. He finished second last time at Newcastle behind a well-handicapped horse of Dan Skelton’s, and he’s in receipt of plenty of weight from his rivals, so I can see him running very well.

Tom Scudamore, Coral Racing Ambassador
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