'The world is his oyster' - Royale Pagaille storms into Gold Cup reckoning

Royale Pagaille looked every inch a superstar in the making as he earned quotes of 12-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after demolishing the Peter Marsh field to continue his rapid ascension through the chasing ranks.

The Grade 2 chase was once well regarded as a trial for the Gold Cup, although the days of champions Little Owl, Bregawn and Jodami seemed well in the past by the time the eight runners lined up on the heavy Haydock ground on Saturday.

Carrying top weight and conceding 11lb to his nearest rival, Royale Pagaille, trained by Venetia Williams for Rich and Susannah Ricci, made a mockery of the handicapper's rating of 156 and the horribly tacky conditions by sauntering home a 16-length winner from Potters Legend, having barely come off the bridle.

The winning margin was academic after the winner was eased by Tom Scudamore on the run to the line with the race having long been ended as a contest, although it should be noted the morning withdrawal of Sam Brown and fall of Sam’s Adventure made the task a simpler one.

Scudamore, though, made no effort to hide his delight at the performance having been rendered little more than a passenger after fortunately picking up the spare ride with regular jockey Charlie Deutsch at Ascot.

“To be able to do that on this ground off a 156 rating, beating them 16 lengths, is very impressive. That was a hell of a thrill,” he said.

“He’s jumped well and taken me all the way down the back straight. I got there sooner than I’d have liked but he was going so well. The world is his oyster. I’ll leave the rest up to Venetia and Rich Ricci but it was a pleasure to be here to ride him today.”

His spring targets will be confirmed in due course with the victorious trainer tight-lipped on Royale Pagaille’s immediate future, but a step up to racing’s top table appears inevitable.

"It might not have been the strongest Peter Marsh but I was hoping he'd win like that," Williams said.

"The handicapper is obviously going to put him up again and inevitably that's going to put him into rarer areas up at the top. We'll see as to where we go next."

The win continues a remarkable turn of fortune for Royale Pagaille who, until December, had been winless in eight runs over fences and failed to beat a rival in two starts on British soil.

He has risen 21lb with the handicapper since then after following up success at Haydock on his reappearance with a superb win in a handicap at Kempton over Christmas. 

Despite this being the seven-year-old's 11th spin over fences – the majority of those coming in France – Royale Pagaille remains a novice, which leaves him with plenty of options come festival season.

Paddy Power shortened him to 7-2 (from 7) for the National Hunt Chase and 6-1 (from 14) for the Festival Novices’ Chase (formerly the RSA).

However, the presence of Monkfish in the latter may sway connections away from there, which leaves the Gold Cup as a tantalising option.

It's a race the Riccis, despite their battalion of greats down the years, have yet to capture, but that conversation will need to wait for another day with Williams happy to focus on the here and now after another boost to her chaser's growing reputation

Williams said: "This is his third season as a novice chaser, so he's probably more experienced than most novices, but there's plenty of time for discussions with the owners.

"The manner he's done it was what we were most pleased to see. I was delighted."