Kingswell Theatre (22/1) rolled back the years to capture the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase for a second time, as both Easysland and Tiger Roll disappointed in the feature contest on Countryside Day.
Dual Randox Health Grand National hero Tiger Roll’s presence meant that Kingswell Theatre lined up 18lb out of the handicap, but the Michael Scudamore-trained 11-year-old made every yard of the running to emulate his victory in the race in 2017.
Tiger Roll never looked comfortable and was pulled up by Robbie Power, while French raider Easysland, sent off a red-hot 8/11 favourite following a commanding win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival™ in March, could only finish fourth.
By contrast, Kingswell Theatre travelled enthusiastically throughout under Tom Scudamore and stayed on gamely to beat Beau Du Brizais by five lengths, with a further two lengths back to Potters Corner in third.
Michael Scudamore said: "It is strange - I was speaking to Tom [Scudamore, jockey] about whether it was worth running him, because he didn't look good at the weights - apart from the top two or three, nothing else was given a chance. But he loves it round here, he comes alive round here, and Tom's given him a great ride. It's great credit to the horse, to have done it in 2017 and to come back three years later, with all the problems he's had – it is great credit to him and to the team at home, who have done a great job.
"He's funny, he's such a laid-back character. Even on Sunday when we brought him for a school round here, the head groundsman said that he looked a bit lazy and lethargic. But the moment he stepped off the lorry today, he just held himself in a different way, I suppose like an athlete, or a footballer going to Wembley, you just have that little bit more about you, and he was the same, just pricked his ears, his head was a bit higher and he walked with a bit more purpose. It sounds corny, but it's true."
Tom Scudamore said: “He has been a fantastic horse for Michael, myself and my daughter Margot rides him at home too, so he is a very special horse for all our family.
“To be fair to him, he pretty much knows where he is going, even at the canal turns and things, he is so quick and away. It was a race before he came along that I was never really keen on. Since he has come along, I absolutely love it.
“You have got to have the right type of horse to go and do it. It is certainly not an afterthought when you are taking on the likes of Enda Bolger and the French horses, who are doing it so often. A lot of the time I think we think ‘we will run them in a cross-country race to try and liven them up or doing something different with them’, whereas it’s a main target for a lot of other people, and when you have that mentality you’re always playing catch-up.
“Obviously, we hope Tiger Roll is OK, he hasn’t run his race and Easysland as well. Kingswell is a good horse round here on his day. He’s won this race before and I know we were [a long way out of the] handicap, but I did believe we would be placed and it’s the first time he’s had his ground here since he won. It has always been too soft for him really, so that gave me a lot more confidence too and jumping the second last gave me plenty of confidence.
“Any winner round here is very special, but I suppose this is our local track growing up. Myself and Michael spent a lot of time here both when we were meant to and when we were not meant too! So, it holds many special memories and to ride a winner for Michael is great. He’s having a fantastic season and is just a very good trainer — you can see that to get a horse that primed first time out speaks volumes for him and what he is doing.
“It’s great credit [to my brother], but it’s even more of a family success as my daughter has done all the hard work on him. Margot conveniently had a day off today, she’s at the 'dentist'… it’s all worked out brilliantly. I’m so proud of him [the horse], I’m so proud of Michael and a lot of credit has to go to Margot as well.
“I am delighted to ride a winner for Michael, especially on ITV Racing.”
Micheal Nolan, rider of the second Beau Du Brizais said: "He loved that. From the minute we jumped the first hedge he came live. I wanted to be a bit further back, but he just took me there and I left him. He had a light weight and he loves jumping. He is not very big but every hedge his eyes lit up and I didn't want to disappoint him. I followed Tom Scu all the way and I felt like the two of us had an easy lead out in front. Coming home I thought I was going to win but Scu just lengthened again. My lad tried all the way to the line though and will be back again next time."
Christian Williams, trainer of the third Potters Corner said: "I am delighted. First time out last year he ran over hurdles and pulled up, disappointed again next time out and then won, so it probably takes a run or two and the nature of the course means I think you just need to run in the race once or twice, so we will do the same thing again in December. I will speak to the owners, but I would have thought we will stick to these races now. This race might suit him better than the Welsh National. I will speak to the boys and we will all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet, but this might be the route we go down."
Robbie Power, rider of Tiger Roll, said: “Tiger Roll was never travelling. He never had a cut at his fences. I pulled him up because he was never in a rhythm.”
Jason Kiely, representing Easysland’s trainer David Cottin, said: “With the weight, it was quite hard to make a comeback. Easysland made a mistake or two on the way round and lost a bit of ground. He didn’t want to force him to do anything serious. He will be fine and we will look ahead to the next day."
3.00pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase 3m 6f 37y
1 Kingswell Theatre – Michael Scudamore 11-10-00 Michael Scudamore 22/1
2 Beau Du Brizais – Philip Hobbs 8-10-00 Micheal Nolan 22/1
3 Potters Corner – Christian Williams 10-00-00 Jack Tudor (5) 17/2
Time: 8m 34.27s
Tote win: £32.20 Places: £4.20 £4.20 £1.50 Exacta: £424.40 Trifecta: £3,871.60