Cheltenham Festival Diary: Olympian view for Scu on the hill


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The Independent Online

Peter Scudamore became part of the fabric of Cheltenham when winning 13 Festival races during the 1980s and 1990s, including two Champion Hurdles and a Champion Chase.

But two of his lesser triumphs really stand out in his memory. "When I got the leg up to ride Miinnehoma, the last thing Martin Pipe said to me was: "If you get beat on this, don't bother coming back," recalled the man everybody knows as Scu.

"And then towards the end of my career, Martin brought me into the office three weeks before the Festival, showed me the entry book and said: 'Olympian will win that, that and that.' The last 'that' was the Coral Cup and it was so nice, after all the battles I had been in at the Festival, to be coming down the hill swinging off the bit and sure to win."

Scudamore is still far too busy these days to be dwelling for too long on the past, his busy week comprising work for Radio 5 Live, help with the supervision of his trainer partner, Lucinda Russell, and a fatherly eye on jockey Tom Scudamore,

Russell's Brindisi Breeze, who lines up in today's Albert Bartlett Hurdle, has been touted as a possible and rare Scottish-trained Festival winner, but Scudamore fears that the ground might be too quick for him.

Flash, bang, wallop – strife of Briens is over

Some good news. Jean-Charles Briens, the French photographer who was hurt when Wishfull Thinking crashed through the rails in front of the stands on Wednesday, was back at work yesterday.

Sporting a broken nose and several stitches in a badly cut mouth, Briens looked as though he had been whacked in the face by a horse, which of course he had been, and he also suffered injuries to an arm and a leg.

But the internationally renowned photographer is built like a Les Bleus prop and though clearly the worse for wear he was determined to carry on as normal once he had been discharged from hospital, a few hours after the incident.

"When they asked me whether I was all right I said I was OK, but then it started to hurt here and there and here, all over," he said. "I haven't seen it on television and I don't want to, but I will have no problems going back to the same place today. This is my job and I will go where I need to be. It wasn't like I was in the wrong place, I was just unlucky."

Fellow snapper Dan Abrahams saw it all happen and once he knew his colleague had not been seriously harmed, all sympathy evaporated and was replaced by the usual black humour. "He's absolutely fine," said Abrahams. "The first thing he said when he came round was: 'Tasted better.'"

Jefferson bemoans handicap

Malcolm Jefferson, who trained Cape Tribulation to win the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle yesterday, has a radical solution to what he described as racing's "North-South divide".

Jefferson, whose yard is at Malton in North Yorkshire, was saddling his first handicap winner at the Festival since Tindari won the same race 18 years ago.

"They should have one handicap for the South and a different one for the North," he said. "Seriously, we have found it impossible with the high marks they give us."

Jefferson added: "Fortunately, they relented a bit with Cape Tribulation and I thought he would have a chance if everything went right, which it did."