Nick Scholfield: Melodic Rendezvous win at Cheltenham Festival would combine best ever glories
It is a tricky question for Nick Scholfield. What gave him the bigger thrill: his first Festival win on Hunt Ball last year or his first Grade One triumph on Melodic Rendezvous at Sandown Park in January?
The Castle Cary jockey confessed it was hard to split them – but he will combine both sensations in one glorious moment if Melodic Rendezvous lands the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday.
Since landing the Tolworth Hurdle the seven-year-old – trained in West Somerset by Jeremy Scott – enhanced his reputation further when shattering Puffin Billy’s unbeaten record by a comfortable nine lengths in a Listed novices’ race at Exeter.
Now comes the big test – and nothing would give Scholfield more pleasure than to give Scott a first Festival success in the week’s curtain-raiser.
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The 23-year-old rider said: “It was job done at Exeter and Melodic Rendezvous could do no more than he did there. He didn’t have a hard race, I didn’t have to go through the gears on him and he’s come out of it well.
“He’s won his last three races on heavy going which Jeremy didn’t think he would like and he would really like better ground but we’ll take what comes at Cheltenham.”
The chestnut is also entered for the longer Neptune Investment Hurdle but all signs point to the two-mile Supreme for which he is a 10-1 chance with Scholfield saying: “He’s only ever run over two miles or so, he’s got plenty of speed, so why try a trip?“
Though Melodic Rendezvous has great claims the bookies reckon Empiracle is the number one hope of a winner for the Scholfield/Scott combination in Wednesday’s Champion Bumper.
The son of the late 2003 Derby hero Kris Kin impressed in his first and only outing when hacking up in a Huntingdon bumper during October.
Scholfield said of the 7-1 joint favourite: “Empiracle is a lovely young horse with plenty of presence and power. It may not have been the strongest of bumpers at Huntingdon but we wouldn’t be going to Cheltenham if Jeremy didn’t think he was up to it.”