Having tasted success at The Festival, Tom Scudamore is eager to return to the winners enclosure at this years four-day meeting and the jockey looks set to have several excellent chances courtesy of the David Pipe stable, including Lough Derg, Or Noir De Somoza, and An Accordion, together with the perennial strong team of novices and handicappers.
An Accordion has a couple of entries coming up, and his target at The Cheltenham Festival will depend on how he gets on beforehand. He holds an entry in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and will probably also be given another entry in the William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. Hes raring to go at the moment and its just a question of finding the right race for him.
Lough Derg has been entered in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle or he could take his chance in the Coral Cup. He won the Steel Plate And Sections Hurdle over a similar trip to the Coral Cup on New Years Day and he also ran well over three miles in the Byrne Group Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day, so we will just wait and see which option is best for him.
Or Noir De Somoza has lots of options at The Festival - the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase and the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. I was very pleased with his run at Ascot , especially considering it was his first appearance for quite some time.
David said beforehand that he would need the run and obviously Master Minded is the champion two-miler at the moment. Or Noir De Somozas best form in France was over slightly further but we will decide which race to go for at The Festival nearer the time.
Weve also got Tamarinbleu, who holds entries in the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase, so there are plenty of options in the championship chases at the moment and a lot will depend on the ground and how the horses perform beforehand.
I rode two nice four-year-olds to victory over the weekend - Master Of Arts at Doncaster on Saturday and Mr Thriller at Fontwell on Sunday. They both impressed me and have several possible engagements at The Festival, including the JCB Triumph Hurdle, the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices Hurdle.
While Tom is excited over his potential rides at this years Festival, he is also keen on the chances of Osana, whom he rode to finish second to Katchit in last years Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle. The seven-year-old made an encouraging seasonal return under Paddy Brennan at Sandown on January 31, when he finished three and a half lengths second to Celestial Halo, despite conceding 4lb to last seasons JCB Triumph Hurdle victor.
I also think that Osana will have a great chance in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle. It will be a shame to miss out on riding him but thats racing. Ive gained from similar things happening to other jockeys and theres nothing personal in the decisions that owners make. He ran a good race at Sandown over the weekend and he will be meeting Celestial Halo on level weights at The Festival, so he goes there with every chance.