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Grand National 2021: Cloth Cap a worthy Aintree favourite, says jockey Tom Scudamore

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Cloth Cap won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury
Cloth Cap won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury by 10 lengths in November
Venue: Aintree Racecourse Date: Saturday 10 April Time: 17:15 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live; updates on BBC Sport website

Cloth Cap is a worthy favourite for next month’s Grand National at Aintree, says jockey Tom Scudamore.

The impressive Newbury and Kelso winner, trained in Gloucestershire by Jonjo O’Neill, is as low as 4-1 for the big race on 10 April.

Victory would be a record fourth triumph in the contest for owner Trevor Hemmings.

“It’s a lovely privileged position to be on the favourite for the Grand National,” said Scudamore, 38.

A total of 77 horses remain after the latest National entry stage, with French pair Easysland and Ajas the main absentees. A maximum of 40 runners can line up on the day, with the lowest-rated horses balloted out.

Cloth Cap was allocated 10st 5lb when the weights for the handicap were announced last month but has since won at Kelso, and his National rating is 14lb lower than his current official mark.

“He’s been a tremendous ride who’s going from strength to strength and is a worthy favourite,” said Scudamore, whose grandfather Michael landed the race in 1959 on Oxo.

Hemmings, the owner of Preston North End FC, has previously won the National with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

Grand National approximate odds: 4-1 Cloth Cap, 10-1 Any Second Now, 14-1 Burrows Saint, Kimberlite Candy, Secret Reprieve, 16-1 Minella Times, 20-1 Magic of Light, 25-1 Bar

Tiger Roll, the 4-1 favourite, was the shortest-priced winner for 100 years when claiming a second success in the last running two years ago.

With the two-time winner absent, Cloth Cap is the same odds for the National, which was cancelled last year and is set to be run without spectators this time because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He’s in great form at home and the whole team is very excited,” said AJ O’Neill, assistant trainer to his father. “He’s probably entitled to be favourite.”

‘We got our backsides spanked’ at Cheltenham

Scudamore said the home side need to “pull their socks up” after Irish-trained runners won 23 races at last week’s Cheltenham Festival, with just five for the Great Britain team.

“We well and truly had our backsides spanked and it’s up to us to go out and change it,” he said.

“Last week was a lesson to everybody that we have a lot of catching up to do it. It’s deeds that matter and we’ve all got to pull our socks up.”

Better prize money, race programming and owner investment have been cited as reasons for the Irish dominance.

Irish handicapper Andrew Shaw earlier this week likened the visiting horses to Premier League sides facing Championship outfits.

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