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Scudamore believes Adagio can play his part in Champion Hurdle

Tom Scudamore hopes Adagio’s best will be good enough to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next week.

Runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle last year, the David Pipe-trained five-year-old has never been out of the first two in eight starts over hurdles and three of those second-placed efforts have come at Cheltenham.

“For one reason or another, I still don’t think we have seen the best of him yet,” said Scudamore.

“Hopefully, his best will be good enough in the Champion Hurdle. From what he has shown so far, it certainly doesn’t put him too far away and there is no reason to think there won’t be a little bit of improvement in him still.”

Adagio shouldered a whopping 11st 12lb in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle on his reappearance in November, and was beaten just three-quarters of a length by West Cork.

The German-bred gelding followed that last month when behind only the talented Goshen in Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

“It was brave to go to the Greatwood off that weight and he hadn’t had an uninterrupted prep,” said the jockey.

“It was more of a case that we wanted to see where we were, whether we were going to go down the handicap route with him or whether he was up to graded class.

“Especially with horses that are stepping out out of their age group, like he was after the Triumph Hurdle, you have to find out what level they are at, so even with the weight, it was the logical race to see where we were at with him.

“We were obviously very hopeful he would make up into Champion Hurdle class, and from what he was showing us at home, you’d think he would. But it is one thing saying it and another thing doing it, and we needed to find out.”

Adagio faced a stiff task at Wincanton against Goshen, who had been an impressive winner of the Kingwell Hurdle a year before.

Yet Scudamore’s mount cruised through the race and when pulled out wide to challenge, he had Goshen in trouble when going half a length up.

However, Goshen and Jamie Moore had the better part of the track against the stands rail and ultimately prevailed.

“I couldn’t get across to the rail and Jamie could,” said Scudamore. “On another day, maybe we would have won.

“Would it have made a difference? Who knows? In the end, we got beaten the best part of two lengths. At the time I was a bit grumpy. It has been and gone, so now we can look forward to the Champion Hurdle.

“And you would like to think Adagio is more than a dark horse. I still don’t think we have still seen the best of him quite yet.

Tom Scudamore is waiting on a game of musical chairs
Tom Scudamore is waiting on a game of musical chairs (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We are fully aware of Honeysuckle and you can’t underestimate her. I’d rather she stayed at home and didn’t have the mares’ allowance, but it is what it is.

“But we have been very happy with Adagio and he deserves to take his chance.

“There is no reason not to go there full of confidence.”

Experienced Scudamore will be in high demand at the Festival, although he is yet to firm up which rides he will be taking.

“David will have a few in handicaps, although it is touch and go whether Gericault Roque gets into the Ultima,” added the 39-year-old.

“He would have got in off this mark last year, but this year is another year. We will wait and see.

“I am in a bit of limbo to wait and see who rides what. It is like a game of musical chairs at the moment with Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott in charge!”

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