Nicholls & Scudamore plot revenge
Tom Scudamore and Paul Nicholls both believe that they can get Cue Card beaten in the William Hill King George VI Chase.
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Tom Scudamore and Paul Nicholls both believe that they can get favourite Cue Card beaten in the William Hill King George VI Chase on Boxing Day - but they're in disagreement as to whether Joe Tizzard managed to get 'an easy lead' when beating Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti aboard Cue Card in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month.
Nicholls believes Silviniaco Conti, third that day under Noel Fehily, will have come on for that run when he goes to Kempton for the re-match.
"In the paddock, for me, I thought he looked a few kilos heavy before the race," said the trainer on Monday.
"I have to say that Joe rode a brilliant race on Cue Card. He got a soft lead and dictated things but I can't see that happening at Kempton.
"He's obviously very good to win a race like that and you've obviously got to respect him, but he'd had that run in the Haldon Gold Cup and I think that made the difference."
Nicholls also saddles Al Ferof, who will be ridden by stable jockey Daryl Jacob, while Fehily is likely to retain the ride on Silvinaco Conti - the trainer twice emphasised "he is in a different job now" when asked whether Ruby Walsh might come in for the mount should he be at Kempton to ride for Willie Mullins.
Referring to Al Ferof, Nicholls said: "He had a school round the other day but that was just what we wanted. He's done a lot of work since then, schooled every week and is a lot fitter. He's in really good order.
"Daryl will definitely ride, that's what he went to Ascot for, to ride him, and I said to him a while back to do that and stick with him in the King George."
Tom Scudamore is also hoping for a reversal of form and fortunes at Kempton, but he could not have been more impressed by Cue Card's performance.
"It was as good a race as everyone was hoping it would be," he told Sportinglife.com.
"I've been lucky enough to ride against the Kauto Stars and the Denmans but they were in a league of their own, whereas this race had so much depth to it.
"I didn't feel that Cue Card had it his own way. Roi Du Mee went out there to try and take him on and he was exhausted after a circuit. We didn't pause for breath all the way round. It was relentless.
"Next Long Run came to take him on, and then turning for home Silviniaco Conti went upsides.
"At that stage, I was hoping to keep something back for the finish and believing that Silviniaco Conti would get Cue Card working and that I might be able to pick up the pieces, but instead Cue Card just quickened up again and I had to get after him.
"At the second-last fence, I thought we might still get to him but Cue Card found even more. It was a fantastic performance."
However, like Nicholls, Scudamore believes that Cue Card's race fitness, having gone to Haydock with the Exeter run under his belt, may have made a difference on the day.
"Kempton will be a different day altogether," said the jockey. "Don't get me wrong - Dynaste was as fit as David could have got him for his first run of the season and I thought he looked fantastic but there is a difference between that and race fitness.
"You always want to be associated with the champions and Dynaste certainly could be one, but I'd have said the same thing about Grands Crus a year ago, so it's one thing to say it and another to go out and do it on the track."