LAST week's Cheltenham festival was one that Tom Scudamore will remember for some time as the 31-year-old jockey, riding at his 13th Festival, scored a magnificent treble of big winners during the week.
Previously Scudamore, from more than 120 Festival rides, had just two handicap chase winners to show for 12 years riding but on the opening Tuesday Scudamore turned over one of the week’s expected banker bets in Champagne Fever, when he persuaded a sometime enigmatic partner 33/1 shot Western Warhorse to battle on and score in the Arkle Chase.
Following that, on Thursday, Scudamore rode with enormous confidence and he doubled his previous score with two wins in Dynaste and Ballynagour.
Dynaste, trained by David Pipe, was widely expected to win the Jewson Novices' Chase 12 months ago and was defeated followed by a Boxing Day King George V Chase flop, but the eight year old got back on track under a fine confidence giving ride.
The two-and-a-half-mile contest was run at a fierce pace and Dynaste was among several runners that looked in trouble as Hidden Cyclone and Rajdhani Express kicked on down the hill.
Scudamore held his mount together and pulled Dynaste wide on the track and gave him time before challenging approaching the last. They met that fence perfectly and stretched clear up the hill to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths from Hidden Cyclone with Rajdhani Express back in third.
Scudamore said: "He's taken some knocks so I'm pleased for the horse as he's gone and shown how good he is, and he's gone and shown it at Cheltenham in a Grade One.
"I'm delighted for the owners and for David because they've done a lot of hard work. He just wasn't himself after the King George, but that was the real him today. What a thrill.”
The victory of Ballnagour in the Bryne Group Plate provided trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore with a double on the day following the Grade One victory of Dynaste and saw the eight-year-old make amends for disappointing in last year's renewal when he was sent off the 7/2 favourite this time at odds of 12/1 for supporters.
There were still half-a-dozen runners in contention at the second-last fence with top-weight and front-runner Champion Court still leading but it was clear his early exertions began to take their toll as he began to tire.
Scudamore had crept his mount into the race gradually, however, and Ballynagour quickly swept past his rivals up the hill to win in the style of a horse that had plenty in hand.
"I really enjoyed that, it was fantastic," he said. "We always knew this horse had so much ability but he just wasn't finishing his races. He did today.”
The final day saw another thrill for Scudamore as he rode trainer David Bridgewater’s the Giant Bolster to third place in an eventful Gold Cup.
Despite being hampered at the second-last and having every chance at the final fence, The Giant Bolster was only to be denied by the shock Irish outsiders Lord Windemere and On His Own and finish a placed horse, in the money for the third time.
The in-form stable of Venetia Williams was out of luck during the week with the drying ground conditions going against her horses' chances.
In the Gold Cup, both her runners Houblon Des Obeaux and Katenko, ran well for over a circuit, but found the early fast pace hard to contend with and finished ninth and 11th respectively.
It would be no surprise to see both reappear in handicap company before the end of the season.