JOCKEY Tom Scudamore has drawn comparisons with Dynaste’s task in tomorrow’s Betfair Chase – a dress rehearsal for the Cheltenham Gold Cup – to this weekend’s super-middleweight showdown between Carl Froch and George Groves.
Not dissimilar to the unbeaten Groves, who challenges Froch for his IBF and WBA belts in Manchester, Scudamore believes the David Pipe-trained grey is the young pretender in what promises to be a star-studded encounter headed by Bobs Worth, the current Cheltenham champion, and 2011 winner Long Run.
All the main contenders have stood their ground, including 2012 Betfair winner Silviniaco Conti, recent Wetherby winner Tidal Bay and Ryanair Chase winner Cue Card.
Dynaste, winner of the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton last season, skipped the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in preference to the Grade One on Merseyside.
“We could have gone for the Paddy Power Gold Cup but David felt this was the best option for Dynaste,” said Scudamore.
“We wanted to take on the big boys and see where we are. It’s a bit like the fight at the weekend. We are like Grove.
“We are taking on horses which have been there and done it. We think we are good enough, but we will find out on Saturday.
“We have 21lb to find with Bobs Worth and five with The Giant Bolster, who was fourth in the Gold Cup, but we know we have a good horse.”
Reigning champion Flat trainer Richard Hannon has confirmed that he will retire at the end of the year.
As widely expected, the 68-year-old will hand over the licence to his son, Richard Hannon jnr, on January 1.
“The worst-kept secret is racing is finally out – I am standing down from New Year’s Day,” said Hannon snr. “It was always going to happen, but Richard jnr has served his apprenticeship and you cannot keep him waiting forever. Ian Balding passed the baton to Andrew and Barry Hills did likewise to Charlie, and it is only right that Richard should now take over.
“We thought long and hard as to when to make the announcement, but I wanted to make sure all my owners knew first, especially the Queen.
“Inevitably, people will say that I have retired, but I will still be up and out at first lot and assisting Richard instead of him assisting me.
“It is not my style to lay in bed all morning – I love being with the horses, but these past couple of seasons I have started to wind down and go racing less.”
Hannon famously saddled a winner for the Queen at Royal Ascot when Free Agent won the Chesham Stakes in 2008.
Her Majesty’s racing manager, John Warren, said: “The day Free Agent won the Chesham was special, as the Queen had gone a long while without a Royal Ascot winner. Richard jnr has obviously been incredibly closely associated all the way along the line, he’s been there every step of the way.
“Because of that, I doubt very much that anything will change – it’s all about the next generation.
“The partnership will continue and I’m sure he’ll be a success in his own right.
“He’ll still make it fun and that is the main thing, when the Queen goes there she always comments how much fun she has there, it gives her so much pleasure.”
Trainer Jeremy Scott says it is likely Melodic Rendezvous will swerve the Coral Hurdle at Ascot tomorrow and run next weekend in the prestigious Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Melodic Rendezvous, who missed Cheltenham because of a training setback, is a leading contender for next year’s Champion Hurdle after winning his comeback race at Wincanton under Nick Scholfield.