Tom Scudamore: “I couldn’t ignore the feeling Israel Champ gave me at Ascot!”
Coral ambassador previews his Cheltenham Day Two rides
Cheltenham 15.30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase
I don’t have a ride in Wednesday’s feature, but it’s a race I’ll be watching with as much interest as everyone else, as it has the potential to be a classic, similar to the era of Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop and Well Chief.
Although Altior had his late scare this week, he won’t run unless he’s 100%, connections and the vets will make sure of that, but fingers-crossed he’s OK.
The one positive of having this late scare is that it won’t affect his fitness, all that work will have been done, whereas if it had happened ten days ago, and he’d missed work, then Nicky Henderson and his team would have really been up against it.
I’m a big Defi Du Seuil fan, although keep thinking I must be an idiot, as I’d be deserting Altior, a winner at the last four Festivals, a horse unbeaten over obstacles at this two mile trip, and if he does win we’ll all wonder why we deserted him!
But Defi looked superb at Ascot last time, he’s the form two-mile chaser this season, and his jumping, which had looked a bit deliberate at the start of the season, has improved immensely.
The other one of the big three, Chacun Pour Soi, looked an absolute monster when winning at Punchestown last spring, but Defi Du Seuil may have just been feeling the effects of a long season that day.
Tactically, I think Nico [De Boinville] has the toughest job, as Altior really needs a proper end-to-end gallop, whereas Defi and Chacun Pour Soi look more versatile. Nico may have to make his own pace, and that will give Barry [Geraghty] something to aim at.
Cheltenham 16.10 – Kingswell Theatre
Kingswell Theatre has won over these cross-country fences before, and remains an admirable performer, but he has got plenty to find with the market leaders on the ratings, and we’d be thrilled if he could pick up some prize money here.
Tiger Roll is the big name here, and brilliant though he is, I don’t think this will be a procession for him, the French challenge looks really strong, and he could have his work cut out to beat Easyland.
He was bought by JP McManus after his last win, which tells you plenty, and I think he’ll win this.
Cheltenham 16.50 – Night Edition
Like the other 21 jockeys in this race, I fancy my mount to run a big race here!
Joking apart, that is the nature of this fiercely competitive handicap, where so many look to have chances, but my fellow has graded form, has run well at Cheltenham, albeit on the new course rather than this old course, and won well at Taunton last time.
He was entitled to win like that, but it’s still good to see it happen, and I do think he’s got a live chance here.
Cheltenham 17.30 – Israel Champ
I had to pick between Israel Champ and Panic Attack, who is a recent new arrival to Dave’s [Pipe] in the Bumper, and while Panic Attack gets the mares’ allowance here, which could make a difference, I just couldn’t desert Israel Champ, who was so impressive when winning under a penalty at Ascot before Christmas.
The feel he gave me that day was something special, it looked a really strong Listed race, and the way he beat them, I couldn’t ignore that. It won’t be easy though, as well as Panic Attack, there’s a typically strong Irish contingent.
I won the race on Moon Racer five years ago, but Israel Champ would be a very different type, Moon Racer had the speed to run over a mile and a half on the flat, which could be more like Panic Attack, but Israel Champ is a more traditional National Hunt sort. Hopefully both horses have big futures for the yard!