Aintree Grand National News: Unfinished business for Cloth Cap, Scudamore and the Hemmings family

Cloth Cap has been laid out for a Grand National win for some time and it couldn't mean more to jockey Tom Scudamore and the Hemmings family.

10-year-old Cloth Cap goes into the 2022 Randox Aintree Grand National with a serious case of unfinished business for his jockey and connections of the horse.

The late Trevor Hemmings was fascinated with the Aintree marathon race, winning it with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) but passing away in October 2021 without seeing a fourth victor in his yellow and green quartered silks.

For Cloth Cap's likely jockey Tom Scudamore, the National is a family affair with his late grandfather Michael taking the race in 1959 on Oxo, while his eight-time Champion Jockey father Peter just couldn't clinch racing's big one, highlighting the peaks and troughs of a jockey's life.

This will be the 20th National for Tom Scudamore with his best placing being sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017.

"Northern Starlight was my first ride, as an amateur - that is going back a bit now - and that was pretty exciting," he said.

"I was 18 and fell at Becher's the first time. I was gutted at the time and absolutely distraught. Then I got in the ambulance and we had to pick up a load more people at the Canal Turn, so it then dawned on me that I was not going to get very far anyway. All the people I was around, whom I'd jumped upsides, all got wiped out at the Canal Turn.

"So, as it happened, it just saved me a bit more of a kicking.

"As for Vieux Lion Rouge, he didn't stay, unfortunately. He got me to the Melling Road, to the third-last and second-last but it stretched him a little bit from there. He was a fabulous horse to ride around there, coming back year after year. He knew his way around. And I learned plenty off him."

The Jonjo O'Neill trained Cloth Cap was favourite in the National last year in the race eventually won by Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times with the horse being pulled up after suffering a respiratory noise. The race was held behind closed doors due to the Covid:19 pandemic.

"It was obviously a bit of an odd experience last year, but once you are up and racing, you can't really tell the difference," he added.

"The build-up to the race was definitely quite strange - going out to empty stands was a bit odd, as normally you'd know the atmosphere would be electric.

"Now it is great to see everybody back and it does make a difference - it was nice at Cheltenham to see all the crowds returning. We have missed it all and certainly Ladies Day on the Friday at Aintree will be back to how it should be.

"Last year, I had a great ride round for a long way until Cloth Cap's wind kicked in, unfortunately. Hopefully, that has been rectified (with an operation) - it seems to have been.

"He is a little bit higher in the weights than he was last year but has been reassessed since his Kelso win last year, so we have gone back down a bit. We were a stone well-in last year but it didn't work out and we are only a few pounds higher this time.

"He ran a great race in the Grimthorpe at Doncaster (when third) last time on ground that would have been horrible and tacky enough for him.

"I was really pleased with the way he ran there and he's been running consistently well this year. I thought he went really well for a long way in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (formerly the Hennessey Gold Cup) at Newbury before the weight told.

"He likes Aintree, he has jumped well round there before and the more the rain stays away the better."

Scudamore is aware of the power of the Grand National within his family and what a win would mean for his career arc.

"It would be the pinnacle," he admitted. "Growing up, it was always the race to win and that has not changed.

"Dad was a champion jockey and I thought he was a superhero growing up. But whenever we would be in a crowd at an event, all people asked him was if he'd won the National.

"My grandfather had, so every time he was there, people would swarm around him. They weren't interested in all dad's incredible achievements.

"The reason being the National is the one race that is in the public's consciousness, the one race all jockeys want to win. That will always be the case."

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