Cloth Cap cemented his place as ante-post favourite for the Randox Grand National with a dominant front-running display in the bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday.
He's not for catching! ??— Kelso Racecourse (@KelsoRacecourse) March 6, 2021
Next stop Aintree for Cloth Cap, who puts in a polished performance to land the @bet365 Premier Chase under @tommyscu ??
Congratulations to the @JonjoONeill team ?? pic.twitter.com/YrEg8rrYTk
Making his first appearance since landing the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, Jonjo O’Neill’s charge was sent off at 100/30 in the hands of Tom Scudamore – and could hardly have been more impressive.
Sent straight to the lead, Cloth Cap jumped accurately throughout and had his four rivals on the stretch before turning for home.
A bold leap at the final obstacle sealed his seven-and-a-half-length success over Aso, prompting his odds to tumble for next month’s Aintree spectacular.
“I was very pleased with him. He travelled away nicely and jumped well,” O’Neill told Racing TV.
“He always jumps a little bit left, that’s his make-up. So long as he comes home safe and sound now, we’ll be happy.
“He’s just in great old form at home – he’s a happy horse. He’s a bit of an old character, but he’s a year older and a bit stronger and things are going right for him at the moment. Fingers crossed it will stay that way for a bit longer.
“He jumps well and he stays well, which are two good things to have when you’re going for a National.
“The plan was to go and win the National last year. We don’t mind if it’s a year late!”
O’Neill, who famously provided Sir Anthony McCoy with an elusive Grand National success through Don’t Push It in 2010, is hoping Cloth Cap can secure owner Trevor Hemmings a fourth, following the previous triumphs of Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).
He added: “It would be special to win the National for him (Hemmings). He’s just told me off, because the horse will be too short a price now and he won’t be able to back him!”
An appearance at Aintree is also on the agenda for My Drogo after extending his unbeaten record over obstacles to three with a facile success in the bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle.
A second Grade 2 for My Drogo! ?— Kelso Racecourse (@KelsoRacecourse) March 6, 2021
The son of the talented mare, My Petra, is a convincing winner of the @bet365 Premier Novices' Hurdle ??
A lovely prospect for @DSkeltonRacing and @harryskelton89 pic.twitter.com/1Tk29vJyce
Trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by his brother Harry, the six-year-old was the 2/1 favourite to complete his hat-trick following previous wins in a maiden hurdle at Newbury and a Grade 2 Ascot.
Carrying a penalty for that latest win, My Drogo was forced to concede weight all round in his bid to double his Grade 2 tally.
However, he proved more than up the task, pulling clear in the straight for a nine-and-a-half-length victory over Do Your Job.
Dan Skelton, making his first visit to Kelso, said of My Drogo: “He’s very good and every question you ask of him he answers.
“He’s got all the ingredients. He’s tough and jumps nicely and has that pace I think all good horses need.
“I’m really impressed with how his season has progressed. He’s a very genuine horse and always a willing partner.
“We’ll step up in grade now and go to Aintree, hopefully. Next year he’s going chasing, so he’s got it all mapped out ahead of him.”