Tom Scudamore looks ahead to a thrilling day one at Cheltenham
Sail By The Sea is my first ride on day one in the 2.05pm (Arkle Challenge Trophy). He has never really had the chance to show his full potential. He’s not been that straightforward to train but having said that he’s fit and well and this is going to be his chance to prove how good he is. We’re under no illusions what task is ahead of us. Un De Sceaux looks fantastic and has carried all before him. Vibrato Valtat and Josses Hill set a decent standard from an English standpoint. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him outrun his odds. He’s never been in a position where he’s been able to show his true worth. Hopefully tomorrow he can go and surprise a few people.
I ride Gevrey Chambertin in the 2.40pm. He’s a funny horse because for a horse who’s won as many races as he has he’s always been slightly disappointing really. That said he’s won a Fixed Brush hurdle and he won a nice chase around Newbury last time. I was pleased he got his head in front at Newbury as that will have done his confidence the world of good. On the minus side he’s never run well around Cheltenham before but I’m hoping that’s circumstance rather than the track. There will be no excuses for him tomorrow because if he doesn’t act on the track we’ll find out. There have always been other excuses for him when he hasn’t run great at Cheltenham before. It’s same as ever, a competitive, big-field for him. One thing in his favour is that he has won a big field, competitive handicap before over hurdles admittedly. He seems much more of a man now. The blinkers have made a man of him. Hopefully he can go and run a nice race.
In the Champion Hurdle (3.20pm) I’ll probably be out on my own a little bit but I think Hurricane Fly will win it. His form is better this year. I watched last year’s Champion Hurdle and he was always hanging and was never comfortable in it. He’s gone and left all that well behind. Last season he wasn’t as impressive going into the Champion Hurdle as he has been this season. Maybe there was a problem with him last year but whatever there was, he’s gone from strength to strength this year. Age is going to catch up with him eventually, he’s eleven years old, and it may catch up with him tomorrow. But if he wasn’t for his age he would be favourite for the Champion Hurdle. You’ve got to respect Ruby’s decision to ride Faugheen. He knows better than anybody, so the fact that he’s gone for Faugheen says a lot. He said himself that he wasn’t going to decide on sentiment or on Faugheen’s promise, it was all about tomorrow, and he’s plumped for Faugheen. He’s obviously very strong on his chance. But I think the Fly will do it tomorrow.
It’s not easy making these decisions when faced with a choice of rides. There are three things that you use to make a decision. You go with your gut feeling, what you feel about the horses and what you know they are capable of. Secondly is obviously the form which is there in black and white, and thirdly, which is probably the most important of the lot, for the big races you look at what the bookies are saying. It’s all well and good me saying Hurricane Fly will win but it’s very hard to get off an even money shot to ride an 8/1 chance. You bookies don’t make your money by getting it wrong as often as jockeys do.
Swing Bowler in the Mares Hurdle at 4.00pm is a big price. She’s 50/1 and she has been a little bit disappointing recently. Place money is the best we can hope for. Let’s hope we can spring a surprise. But the top two, Annie Power and Glens Melody, look a different league from anything else. Glens Melody has come over here and hacked up. She was second in the race last year. And then Annie Power is in a different league to her and she’s in the same stable. It looks like it will be all Annie Power as long as she’s not a complete shadow of where she was this time last year. She’s going to be nigh on impossible to beat.
Katie Walsh rides Broadway Buffalo in the four miler (National Hunt Chase at 4.40pm) for David. He’s probably got it to do on the ratings. He ran well in the Pertemps hurdle last year and has run well at Cheltenham before. I’m positive he’ll get four miles when many of these won’t. Because of that he’s probably got an each way chance. You’ve got to respect Very Wood. He’s a grade one winner and he wouldn’t have looked out of place in the RSA Chase yet they’re going for this. I can’t tell you how often you see these horses and you think “that will stay four miles” and they don’t. They’re just slow. They’re slow three milers. Four miles is a hell of a long way and the one thing in Broadway Buffalo’s favour is that I’m absolutely certain he’ll stay four miles and most of these won’t. He’s got it to find. 20/1 is about right but there will be worse 20/1 chances this week.
I don’t have a ride in the last (5.15pm). It’s a wide open affair. I’ve been riding Irish Cavalier all season and he’d have a cracking chance around here. He’d be the one for me.