NOT many National Hunt jockeys have a five-furlong sprint on their big race record when they are more used to racing over extreme distances in the depths of winter.
However, Tom Scudamore does after winning the inaugural £25,000 Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe, backed by Sun Bets, when his front-running tactics on Tylerly Wonder paid off last year.
Now Scudamore, whose career has been taken to new heights thanks to his association with multiple Grade One-winner Thistlecrack, hopes to defend the title at York tomorrow on Paul Midgley’s sprinter.
The race is run over the same course and distance as the five-furlong Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at the Ebor festival and Scudamore was gleeful last year when his ‘catch me if you can’ approach paid off.
Scudamore, 36, said: “It was a great experience last year. I got a huge buzz out of it – it’s something I really enjoyed.
“Riding in a sprint is something we only get to do once a year. It’s something we all look forward to and we’ve been winding each other up for weeks about it.
“It’s a lovely day out and we get well looked after. It’s a different experience.
“None of us get the opportunity to go racing at York – normally there’s jump racing on the same day. It’s a fantastic racecourse,” he added.
“I suppose it’s a bit like a busman’s holiday. You are going there to work, but it’s a different thing. It’s something we all want to be part of.”
Scudamore has been following the progress of Westow-based Midgley, who is now regarded as one of the country’s top trainers of sprinters after Tanasoq won the ‘Dash’ at Epsom on Derby day.
He added: “I’ve been in touch with Paul throughout the year if I’m honest. He has got a great record training sprinters. Hopefully we can team up to good effect again.”
Scudamore maintains that it will be good fun.
But Midgley – a former jump jockey himself – laughed as he said: “Whenever there’s prize money involved, don’t worry, they always take it seriously.”
Though eight-year-old Tylerly Wonder has yet to win this season his official handicap mark is 4lb lower than when he triumphed previously at York.
Midgley said: “Tom is a proper gent.
“It was great to get him on board last year and he gave him a peach of a ride. It was him that won the race as much as the horse.
“Tylery Wonder is probably not in quite as good form on the racecourse this year going into the race. But luckily Tom has stuck by him.
“He has become well handicapped again, but at the same time he has become well handicapped for a reason.
“He is a horse that loves a flat, galloping track and that’s one thing he must have for him to be at his best. Hopefully he’ll go and run a good race for Tom on Saturday.”
Defending champion Higher Power, ante-post favourite Withhold and Royal Ascot winner Lagostovegas are among a maximum field of 20 for tomorrow’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
James Fanshawe’s Higher Power is only 1lb higher in the weights than 12 months ago, but must give weight to all his rivals. Fanshawe also runs Lord George.
Withhold was an impressive winner of the Cesarewitch last season, but has not been seen since. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding reappears with 12lb more to carry.
Lagostovegas won the Ascot Stakes last week for Willie Mullins, but Karen McLintock’s Dubawi Fifty, runner-up to the Irish stayer, is a notable absentee from a race known as the Pitmen’s Derby.