Tom Scudamore looks ahead to Cheltenham
Coral ambassador discusses his Festival preparations and rides
The loss of Sandown’s Imperial Cup card will be a blow to connections of runners who needed to win to book their place at the Festival.
We all hate missing out on the chance of a winner, but in terms of our match fitness if you like, an extra day or two off won’t make any difference to how we go into Cheltenham week.
For me, it means I can spend some time with the girls, which is a bonus, ahead of what is the biggest, most important four days of the year.
I do still feel the butterflies when I walk into the course on Tuesday morning, and I’m certainly excited by it.
Riding a winner here is not easy, it matters so much to everyone involved, but as one of the senior members of the weighing room now, I definitely have a different focus than I did as a younger rider.
There are less doubts, I know I’ve proved myself here, and I can approach the meeting knowing exactly what to expect.
I also have a set routine each day now, we’re kept nice and busy which does help, gives me less time to think about what could go wrong!
I’ll come in, walk the course, then visit the Pipe’s marquee, the Coral box, and with those commitments met, it’s back to the weighing room.
There’s a special buzz around the weighing room as well, it’s the one time of the year when the lads from Ireland are over, some of the Northern-based lads who we don’t see much of are there.
It’s busy, there’s lots going on, but it all adds to the feeling that this is a special week.
Looking ahead to some of my rides, I have to start with Israel Champ in the Bumper. I had a difficult choice to make here, as Panic Attack has obviously joined Dave’s [Pipe] team, she’ll get the mares’ allowance which will clearly be a huge advantage.
However, the feeling Israel Champ gave me at Ascot last time, winning under a penalty, was something I couldn’t dismiss, and it would have been very hard to desert him.
Ramses De Teillee has surprised me this season without doubt. I thought he might win a couple of little novice hurdles, but the manner of his wins at Cheltenham, Doncaster and Haydock mean he’s a worthy Albert Bartlett contender now, and it’s a race that should really suit him.
Finally, one at a bigger price is Night Edition in the Boodles. Like all the handicaps it will be a fiendishly competitive race, but he’s got graded form (second in a Cheltenham Grade 2) which you need for these races as the handicap is so condensed, and I’m hopeful he’ll run well.