Nick Henderson's gelding is now a best-priced 16-1 with Coral for the Gold Cup following further evidence that the Festival's Blue Riband is likely to be more than just a joust between The Fellow, last season's winner, and Jodami, his predecessor. "Ther e are a stack of good young horses around," Henderson said yesterday. "One of them might come to the top and beat the old boys."
Raymylette was swinging in the hammock yesterday following his exertions and his naturally fragile disposition will be given plenty of time to recover. "It's very critical how he comes out of his races," his trainer said. "After the First National Bank Chase, at Ascot, it took him a good fortnight before he wanted to be doing anything.
"So I suspect that after the battle he's been in yesterday he won't be doing very much for two or three weeks anyway. In effect he had four races because they all had a go at him. I might even consciously just put him by for three weeks."
While the horse rests, so will his trainer, free from the need to commit his charge to the Gold Cup at such an early stage. It seems that a primary strategy has already been developed, however. "He wants a month between races so the chances are he'll only have one more run," Henderson said. "We could go via Kempton for the Racing Post Chase, but, if we're going to take Cheltenham in March seriously, then I think he ought to go there in January for the Timeform Hall Of Fame Chase."
As Raymylette skipped over the Berkshire fences on Saturday like an antelope through the bush it was difficult to reconcile his performance with the fact that this was only the fifth steeplechase of his life. And for those who saw the gelding's first th r usts over obstacles it must have been an occasion to rub the eyes. "He was absolutely desperate when he started," Henderson said. "He used to gallop straight through hurdles at home. He couldn't jump to save his life."
In such circumstances there is only one place to which a miscreant can go: Yogi Breisner's academy for faulty vaulters. Breisner has done as much for jumpers as the Earl of Cardigan. and if there is one horse he would wish to advertise his remedial skills, it is Raymylette.
The horse himself, like the morons who permanently occupy the outside lane of a motorway, and the likes of Lochsong, Mystiko and Desert Orchid before him, resents being overtaken, even at home. "I don't let any horses get near him on the gallops because otherwise he does too much," Henderson said. "He loves bowling along and if you put him behind he doesn't like it. That's why he goes off on his own every day."
The horse remains undefeated over fences, yet his bare form suggests he still has several strata to jump if he is to be a contender at the highest level. For example, Dubacilla (the Betterware runner-up who has also been cut in price for the Festival by the Big Three bookmakers) would reoppose on 13lb better terms at Cheltenham for just over a length. "In the cold light of day you could not say yesterday was strictly Gold Cup form," Henderson said." But it was a great race, a good step up for him and I thought he was very brave to answer all the questions. He's getting there quite quickly."
The Upper Lambourn trainer knows that getting there at all is an irksome passage when steeplechasers are the currency. "I've found easier horses than this one to train, but that's my job and I can live with it if they're good enough," he said. "We've ha d horses here that might have been superstars but no one on a racecourse will ever have heard of them. They never got to do it for all sorts of reasons, usually injuries or sometimes illness. That's why we enjoyed yesterday. In this game there are hours o f agony and moments of glory. Yesterday was one of the bits of glory."
CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP: Ladbrokes: 7-1 Merry Gale, 8-1 Jodami, 10-1 The Fellow, 12-1 Barton Bank, Dubacilla, Flashing Steel, One Man & Raymylette; Hills: 6-1 Merry Gale, 8-1 Jodami & The Fellow, 12-1 Barton Bank & One Man, 14-1 Dubacilla, Flashing Steel & Raymylette, 16-1 others; Coral: 7-1 Merry Gale, 8-1 Jodami & The Fellow, 10-1 One Man, 14-1 Barton Bank, Dubacilla, Flashing Steel & Monsieur Le Cure, 16-1 Raymylette & Young Hustler..