Tom Scudamore Blog | Cheltenham Day Two

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

On day two of last year's Festival, Tom tipped up Impaire Et Passe and The Real Whacker who both went on to win the Gallagher Novices' Hurdle (previously Ballymore) and Brown Advisory Novices' Chase respectively.

Can he deliver the goods on day two again this year?

Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle

I was impressed with Ile Atlantique last time, but I just think Ballyburn is in a different league to the rest of these, and I expect he’ll take all the beating. The way he jumped and travelled last time at Leopardstown really caught my eye, and he hit the line like a horse that is just full of class.

I wouldn’t see any negatives in the fact he raced over two miles last time because this race has a better record for throwing up Champion Hurdle winners than the Supreme, so you definitely need a bit of pace to be able to win this. Quite simply, I think Ballyburn is the best novice hurdler around, and it’s going to take something special to stop him here.

Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

I was a huge Stay Away Fay fan for this because I thought Broadway Boy being in here would suit him, but sadly that horse hasn’t made the race, so it does change the shape of it slightly. I know Stay Away Fay isn’t a ‘sexy’ horse, but he jumps, he gallops, and I think he’s got really solid credentials.

Fact To File obviously has to be respected, but I’d question whether his form warrants him being such a short price, and there looks to be better value elsewhere. He could turn out to be the best of these in the future, but I just think Stay Away Fay is the tough horse who’ll be more suited to this race at this stage in his career.

Tom discusses Stay Away Fay's chances at the Coral Racing Club Cheltenham Preview Night

CRC

Coral Cup

I know he’s quite an obvious selection, but I think you have to back Sa Majeste for this. It’s difficult to know whether his mark of 140 is lenient or not, but he could turn out to be another State Man when he turned up in the Martin Pipe off a similar sort of mark, so I think it’s impossible to rule him out. He’s been strong in the market too in recent days, so that would only make you more confident in a race like this.

Away from the head of the market, I’d certainly give Ballyadam a chance. He goes up in trip here, and he has good course form here at the festival, so I’d give him a solid each-way chance.


Queen Mother Champion Chase

I know El Fabiolo beat Jonbon in last year’s Arkle, but I actually think this could be closer than the betting suggests. El Fabiolo isn’t an exuberant jumper, and sometimes people confuse exuberance with excellence, and I’d say El Fabiolo is a good, measured jumper. Jonbon is almost the opposite in that he is very exuberant, and although he made a horrific mistake last time, if he gets into the sort of rhythm he was in here in November, then it could be much closer than the betting is indicating.

Edwardstone was excellent last time, but he’s going to have Elixir De Nutz and Gentleman De Mee taking him on here, and as good as he was at Newbury, I did think he was on the downgrade going into that race. Going forward on Edwardstone certainly suits him, but it will also suit El Fabiolo and Jonbon, and I think I’d take a chance on Nicky’s horse at the prices.

Tom discusses Jonbon's chances at the Coral Racing Club Cheltenham Preview Night

CRC

Cross Country

Minella Indo
is entitled to a lot of respect as a Gold Cup winner, but I think Coko Beach is at the very top of his game at the moment, and the fact he was good enough to finish second in the Becher off 162 suggests he has to be taken very seriously in this. Gordon has a wonderful record in this race, and the way he went round the Cross Country course at Punchestown last time really caught my eye.

Minella Indo and Delta Work have been wonderful horses, but I’d question whether they would be competitive in handicaps off a mark in the 160’s these days, whereas Coko Beach has already proved he can be competitive of that sort of mark, and I think that speaks volumes in a race like this.


Grand Annual Challenge Cup

There’s a few I like in this, but the one I like most is Sa Fureur for Gordon Elliott. He fits the profile of a young progressive horse in a handicap, and his second to Quilixious last time reads very well in the context of this race. Gordon Elliott went to £300,000 to keep him in the recent dispersal sale, and I think he’s had this race in mind for him for some time.

Champion Bumper

You’d usually stick to the Willie Mullins horses in this, and the jockey bookings would usually give you a really good indication, but you just get the feeling they aren’t 100% sure which one is their best chance in this year’s race. You’d have to respect Jasmin De Vaux on the basis that Patrick Mullins has chosen him, but it looks a very open Champion Bumper this year.

One at a huge price I would give a chance to is Kingston Pride of Nicky Henderson’s. I thought he shaped well behind Tripoli Flyer at Lingfield, but admittedly he would need to take a big step forward from that effort if he was going to win this.


Tom Scudamore, Coral Racing Ambassador
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