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Scudamore says Native River is yet to reach level of Gold Cup favourite

Thistlecrack comes home alone in the King George at Kempton with Tom Scudamore looking round for non-existent dangers
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TOM SCUDAMORE was the star guest on the first ever broadcast of ITV Racing's new morning magazine programme The Opening Show and used the opportunity to play down the challenge Native River poses to Thistlecrack.

Native River followed up his Newbury success with a commanding performance at Chepstow, stringing his Welsh National rivals out off top weight to put himself firmly in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup picture.

However, it was Thistlecrack who stole the limelight over Christmas as he put in a breathtaking round of jumping to win the 32Red King George VI Chase on only his third start over fences.

Speaking on ITV Racing's inaugural The Opening Show on Saturday, Scudamore said: "I've been impressed by Native River. He's a young horse and to achieve what he's achieved in a short space of time shows he is improving. They [he and Thistlecrack] look the two outstanding horses at the moment."

However, asked whether Native River's Chepstow performance was as good as Thistlecrack's in the King George, Scudamore added: "I can see where you're coming from but from a handicapping perspective it was no better than his Hennessy run – he was running off the same mark. I don't think it was as good a performance as Thistlecrack's in the King George but I would say that!"

Opening Show up and running

Scudamore was the feature guest on the first episode of ITV Racing's version of Channel 4's The Morning Line, which aired on ITV4 at 10am, a later start than had been traditional for The Morning Line.

Hosted by an assured Oli Bell, the show bore plenty of similarities to its predecessor but with a few alterations along the way.

Gone were the bookmaker representatives, with Matt Chapman briefly relaying some market movers later in the show and in came more features, including an illuminating interview with jockey-turned-trainer Joseph O'Brien.

O'Brien discussed the issues surrounding weight control for many jockeys as he recounted his own experiences in the closing stages of his riding career in an interview with Bell.

Elsewhere, Victoria Pendleton visited the yard of trainer Andrew Balding to shine a light on the work behind the scenes getting a horse ready to race, while Luke Harvey kicked off a 'jargonbuster' segment with an explanation of a cross noseband.

The Guardian's Chris Cook was a guest to discuss the rule 4 affair arising from Cheltenham last Sunday and Ed Chamberlin spoke to former world number one golfer Lee Westwood about his love of racing.

I've been impressed by Native River. He's a young horse and to achieve what he's achieved in a short space of time shows he is improving
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