Patience is a virtue, and the virtuous get their rewards. Last month Tom Scudamore was a pleased, but tooth-grinding, onlooker as, nursing an injured shoulder, he watched the David Pipe stable hit top gear at Cheltenham with a high-profile double, courtesy of Tamarinbleu and Osana. Yesterday he reflected on his own super Saturday at Ascot, when Tamarinbleu justified the high hopes held for him in stunning style, backed up by that tough of the track, Lough Derg.
"Cheltenham was frustrating, because of course you want to be riding," he said. "Initially you have a spoilt three minutes, the 'it could have been me' thing. But then, of course, you see the bigger picture. You realise you'll get back on them and you're just happy for the whole team, the trainer, the lads, the owners."
As were most onlookers, Scudamore, 25, was mightily impressed with Tamarinbleu, who put himself among the elite by lowering the colours of Twist Magic, the horse most widely perceived as the two-mile champion elect, in the Grade One Victor Chandler Chase.
"One of the most pleasing things about the job," he said, "is when a plan comes together. It doesn't have to be a race like that, it can be a seller if that's all the horse can do. But it's getting it right that gives satisfaction.
"We've always known Tamarinbleu was very good, but at Aintree in the spring he was disappointing. We decided to try blinkers, and he improved to run third over hurdles to Abragante and we knew that was the right route. His performance at Cheltenham was something else. It takes a very good horse to win like he did off a mark of 150. And I was glad Denis [O'Regan] was only keeping the saddle warm for me."
One of French-bred Tamarinbleu's positive qualities is that he is versatile about distance. He has won over fences between two and three miles, and holds entries in all three senior Grade One contests at the Festival, the Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup itself. "If a horse is very good," said Scudamore, "then the trip he runs over is not such an issue. It seems always to have been like that in jump racing, when you think of Arkle, Flyingbolt and Crisp, and more recently Desert Orchid and now Kauto Star."
Tamarinbleu is now third favourite for the shortest of the championship races, behind Twist Magic and last year's winner, Voy Por Ustedes. "It would be a very valid option," said Scudamore. "At Ascot he was extremely impressive. I've watched the replays and sure, Twist Magic was travelling very easily behind us as far as Swinley Bottom, and yes, on the day we outstayed him on that stiff track and over two miles and a furlong. But we had him beat well before the two-mile point, and some other real good two-milers couldn't lay up with us."
The white-faced bay eight-year-old is straightforward, but deceptive, to ride. "He is just a pleasure to be on, no quirks or hang-ups," said the jockey. "But the way he jumps, you don't quite realise the astonishing ability he has at the time. It's only when you look at it afterwards you realise just how far he's landing over the fence, the ground he must be making in the air. It's a great thrill to ride him."
The appointment of Scudamore last year as stable jockey to Pipe took one old firm on a generation, for the fathers of both – Peter and Martin respectively – had the same relationship. And on Saturday the family business was neatly completed, for Tamarinbleu carries silks longstanding at Pond House, first for the late Arthur White, now for his children, John, Ann and Sarah.
White snr's best horse, Beau Ranger, finished third in the Champion Chase 19 years ago; now the next generation will try to bring the prize to the yard for the first time. "You couldn't write the script, could you?" added Scudamore.
The latest jockey to endure the pain of watching others ride his horses is, of course, Tony McCoy, who was discharged from hospital on Saturday, just a week after damaging a vertebra in a fall. "I'm a shocking patient," he said, "but I'll be doing all the right things and I won't be returning until I'm 100 per cent."
The first test of his mental fortitude will come on Saturday, when Barry Geraghty is likely to deputise on the Ulsterman's likely Gold Cup ride, Exotic Dancer, in the Letheby & Christopher Chase at Cheltenham.
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