Tom Scudamore Blog | Cheltenham Day One

11 Mar 2024
Coral Racing Ambassador, Tom Scudamore, provides an exclusive preview of his selections on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

It looks a very open Supreme this year, and there isn’t much between a lot of them on ratings, but I think I’d just side with Firefox for Gordon Elliott. If you put a line through his last run, he’s beaten Ballyburn earlier in the season, and you’d say that particular piece of form stands out in this race.

I’d have a lot of respect for Tullyhill, but I’d want to see how he jumps the first few hurdles before I backed him because he’s been less than fluent over his obstacles on his previous runs. I’ll stick with Firefox, but Tullyhill is definitely capable of going well if he jumps with a bit more fluency.

Arkle Novices’ Chase

It’s difficult to be bullish about any of those at the head of the market, so I think I’ll take them on with Henry De Bromhead’s horse Quilixious. He’s been tried over a variety of trips, but the way he jumped and travelled over two miles last suggests this is his trip, and I was really taken with him that day.

He does have a slight tendency to jump right, but not as badly as Gaelic Warrior does, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about that. The Arkle is always run at furious pace, and I don’t think this will be any different, so I think Rachael will be able to be very forward on him off a strong pace, and he’s definitely the one I’d want to side with.

Ultima Handicap Chase

I think it’s fairly obvious here that The Goffer is the one they will all have to beat. He was fourth behind Corach Rambler and Fastorslow last year, and I don’t need to tell anybody how that form has worked out. He’s 2lb lower this year as well, so he’s clearly handicapped to go well, my only slight concern is that this is a race that usually suits novices who are probably good enough to run in graded races, and The Goffer would be more exposed than some, but I still think he’s the one to beat.

I’d have a lot of respect for Chianti Classico because even though I wasn’t that impressed with him at Ascot, I thought his run at Kempton last time was very good, and he’d definitely fall into that category of an unexposed novice running a handicap.

Champion Hurdle

State Man is as far clear of the rest here as Constitution Hill was when he was in the race, and I think it will take an act of god to get him beaten here. Irish Point would be the only one you’d be slightly concerned about, but his best form is over further, and he might just find it difficult in Grade 1 company over this trip.

I think they’ll be so far behind him you probably won’t even be able to see them, but if I had to pick something to follow him home, I’d go for Zarak The Brave based on his win the Galway Hurdle, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was able to pick up the pieces in behind.

Mares’ Hurdle

Again, very straightforward, and I expect Lossiemouth will take all the beating in this. I think Ashroe Diamond and Lossiemouth are the two best mares in the race, and although you’d have to respect Marie’s Rock on her best form, I just don’t think she’s been running to the same level this year.

I think Lossiemouth would have been very competitive in the Champion Hurdle if she’d taken her chance, so if you have that opinion, then you’d have to fancy her to win this.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap

I do like Milan Tino, and the fact the money has come for him would only increase my confidence in him. I think the handicapper has given him a chance off a mark of 126, and I don’t think it was ideal that they had to make the running on him last time, so I think the big field and likely strong pace here will suit him perfectly well.

The other one I’d give a mention to at a big price is Jack Jones’ horse An Bradan Feasa. He was disappointing last time at Musselburgh, but he’s shown a good level of form around Cheltenham, and he could be feasibly handicapped on his best form.

National Hunt Chase

I’d be favouring Embassy Gardens here over Corbetts Cross. I know his festival form is a bit disappointing, but he’s bolted up in his two runs over fences so far this season, and he looks the most solid option. Corbetts Cross is probably the one with the most ability, but his jumping has left a bit to be desired, so he’ll certainly need to jump with a bit more fluency, but no better man to get them jumping in a race like this than Derek O’Connor.

Apple Away certainly goes there with an each-way chance, and I think the marathon trip will suit her, so she’s capable of running a big race, but she will need a step forward if she’s going to beat the Irish horses at the head of the market.

Tom Scudamore, Coral Racing Ambassador
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