Tom Scudamore: “I couldn’t ignore the feeling Israel Champ gave me at Ascot!”

Tom Scudamore

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 raceI’ll be watching with as much interest as everyone else, as it has thepotential to be a classic, similar to the era of Moscow Flyer, Azertyuiop andWell Chief. 

Although Altior had his late scare this week, he won’t rununless he’s 100%, connections and the vets will make sure of that, butfingers-crossed he’s OK. 

The one positive of having this late scare is that it won’taffect his fitness, all that work will have been done, whereas if it hadhappened ten days ago, and he’d missed work, then Nicky Henderson and his teamwould have really been up against it.

I’m a big Defi Du Seuil fan, although keep thinking I must bean idiot, as I’d be deserting Altior, a winner at the last four Festivals, ahorse unbeaten over obstacles at this two mile trip, and if he does win we’llall wonder why we deserted him! 

But Defi looked superb at Ascot last time, he’s the form two-milechaser this season, and his jumping, which had looked  a bit deliberate atthe start of the season, has improved immensely. 

The other one of the big three, Chacun Pour Soi, looked anabsolute monster when winning at Punchestown last spring, but Defi Du Seuil mayhave 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 PourSoi look more versatile. Nico may have to make his own pace, and that willgive Barry [Geraghty] something to aim at.

Cheltenham 16.10 – Kingswell Theatre

Kingswell Theatre has won over these cross-country fencesbefore, and remains an admirable performer, but he has got plenty to find withthe market leaders on the ratings, and we’d be thrilled if he could pick upsome 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 looksreally strong, and he could have his work cut out to beat Easyland. 

He was bought by JP McManus after his last win, which tellsyou 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 torun a big race here! 

Joking apart, that is the nature of this fiercely competitivehandicap, 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 oldcourse, and won well at Taunton last time. 

He was entitled to win like that, but it’s still good to seeit 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 arecent new arrival to Dave’s [Pipe] in the Bumper, and while Panic Attack getsthe mares’ allowance here, which could make a difference, I just couldn’tdesert Israel Champ, who was so impressive when winning under a penalty atAscot before Christmas. 

The feel he gave me that day was something special, it lookeda really strong Listed race, and the way he beat them, I couldn’t ignorethat. It won’t be easy though, as well as Panic Attack, there’s atypically strong Irish contingent. 

I won the race on Moon Racer five years ago, but Israel Champwould be a very different type, Moon Racer had the speed to run over a mile anda half on the flat, which could be more like Panic Attack, but Israel Champ isa more traditional National Hunt sort. Hopefully both horses have bigfutures for the yard!


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