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Scudamore hoping Cheltenham Flag will be flying high for the north

| 11.03.2014

Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell is sending a small but select team to the Cheltenham Festival, and assistant trainer Peter Scudamore believes Green Flag gives them their best chance of success.

The team enjoyed their first triumph at the Festival when Brindisi Breeze ran out the impressive winner of the 2012 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in the hands of Campbell Gillies. Sadly, both lost their lives months later in tragic accidents.

This year Russell and Scudamore have five horses entered over the four days, but only three have realistic chances of getting into their chosen engagements.

They are Green Flag who runs in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase on the opening day, Tap Night who is likely to run in the Byrne Group Plate on Thursday, and Lie Forrit who contests the Pertemps Final on the same day.

Former eight-time champion jockey Scudamore, who won 13 times at the Cheltenham Festival including two Champion Hurdles on Celtic Shot in 1988 and Granville Again in 1993, as well a Queen Mother Champion Chase on Pearlyman, believes Green Flag is capable of running a huge race.

He said: “Green Flag was a fair hurdler but his jumping has taken him to a new level over fences. He has improved, is tough and seems really well at present. He was unlucky when clipping heels and coming down last time out at Wetherby, and looks on a fair mark.

“Peter Buchanan will ride and he has a real fighting chance. He is probably our best chance of the week.”

Coral go 14/1 about him for the Baylis.

There has been lots of speculation over which race the JP McManus-owned Tap Night will contest, but Scudamore is almost certain he will line-up in Byrne Group Plate, for which he is 9/1 with Coral.

“I am pretty sure he will run in the Byrne Group Plate. That’s what I want to do with him,” Scudamore said.

“And unless Frank Berry or Mr McManus tell me otherwise that is where he will go. He is a funny sort who is hard to get right, but he looks right now. He looks after himself with his jumping in the early part of races but that is not a bad thing as he saves energy for the latter stages.

“When rousted along he jumps better, and on his run at Aintree last year I would like to think that he is not badly handicapped and has a very good chance.”

Lie Forrit is firmly on course for the Pertemps Final, and Scudamore believes he has a good each-way chance.

He said: “Lie Forrit has won at Cheltenham and Aintree and has some good form to his name. His run when third at Haydock on his penultimate start came in what was one of the best 3m handicaps run this season, and on that form I would like to think he would go very close.”

The 10-year-old, who will also be ridden by Peter Buchanan, is a 25/1 shot with Coral.