Tom Scudamore rides his favorite cloth cap at Saturday’s Grand National, aiming to set a great family record in the race his grandfather Michael won with Oxo in 1959.
Tom’s champion jockey father Peter finished third at Corbiere in 1985, but he has been involved in training three winners.
Racing Correspondent Marcus Townend got Tom and father Peter together.
MARCUS TOWNEND: What are your first memories of Grand National?
Peter Scudamore: It’s a race that has been rooted in us since the day we could both run.
Tom Scudamore: The first National I went to was 1988 when Dad fell to Strands Of Gold at Becher’s Brook. After that it was always a huge disappointment. My brother Michael and I went to Aintree so excited. We just assumed Dad would win because he was a champion jockey.
Peter Scudamore (L) hopes son Tom can extend the family’s great record in Grand National
PS: I never went to the Grand National when my dad was driving. The first time I went was when he was training Charles Dickens and came third at Red Rum in 1974.
TS: There’s a great photo of grandpa and jockey Andy Turnell looking really smart and dad looking like a Bay City Roller.
PS: I don’t think it exists anymore! I had long hair, flared pants and a bomber jacket. Flared trousers had only just arrived in Hereford and my dad wasn’t very happy!
MT: Peter, you must have been brought up with stories of your father’s Grand National victory over Oxo in 1959.
PS: From an early age we all crave identity and my identity was that my father had won the National. I remember going to school with a book I found with a picture of him parading with Oxo.
The Grand National is such a part of the British psyche, like a test match at Lord’s, Wimbledon and the FA Cup final. It identifies us.
It made my dad famous and I clung to it.
I remember him telling us when he came second in the National that there was still a welcome party for him when he got back to Herefordshire. When he won it, one of the posh hotels in Hereford had dinner for him.
TS: You think your dad is your growing superhero. He was a champion jockey and I thought he was invincible. But we went to all these great things like A Question Of Sport and This Is Your Life and all the people asked him if he won the National.
Tom Scudamore rides his favorite cloth cap at Saturday’s Grand National in Aintree
My grandfather had done it, so every time he was there people swarmed around him. They weren’t interested in all of Dad’s incredible accomplishments!
MT: Your grandfather must have told you some wonderful Grand National stories.
TS: With a little thought, I could sit down and tell you about every national ride he had; where he fell, how he went, where he ended. His stories include the time when he thought the starter panicked. They were all in the wrong direction. He was one of eight or nine who fell first.
PS: We could have driven over Becher in our sleep. It was rooted in us. My dad told the story of when he was never paid when he came second to wealthy owner Dorothy Paget.
He was told she gave you a 5 percent bonus if you were placed and 10 percent if you won. Grandpa got paid for his horse riding money, but nothing more. He was always sure that trainer Fulke Walwyn had pocketed his bonus.
When Paget died, my old boss Martin Pipe bought all of her diaries and memorabilia. He found a letter Paget had written to Walwyn on the eve of the National saying he should inform Scudamore about the bonuses. It was finally the proof he needed!
He groaned once a month and we never believed him.
MT: Tom, your grandpa held the record for the most consecutive Grand National rides – 16.
TS: Dickie Johnson beat it. I would have done it, but I dislocated a shoulder in 2011. I would have ridden if it was just a broken collarbone!
MT: Can you believe you’ve now ridden 18 Grand Nationals?
TS: The excitement is the same. You get carried away in the first. You ride the opportunity, not the horse. But I learned a lot from it and swore I wouldn’t do it again.
You still have that little kid in you approaching National. At the start of the season you want to drive in all the major races and you definitely want to drive the Grand National.
Tom’s champion jockey father Peter finished third at Corbiere in 1985 and is now a trainer
PS: When I first started, you felt like if you didn’t get a ride in the National, you weren’t top jockey. My first ride was a 20-1 shot. Cheers was the last of the 12 finishers in 1981. I would have driven everything around there.
MT: Corbiere’s third place finish in 1985 was your best finish Peter. Was that the one who got away?
PS: My best shot was Strands Of Gold which fell, the year Rhyme ‘N’ Reason won. He was doing very well. I felt the history of the race at Corbiere. I remember between the third and penultimate fences, John Burke, who won in 1976, was leaning on the railing after a fall. He shouted: ‘Go on Scu, win the National’.
I thought about Dad. Then Phil Tuck runner-up Mr Snugfit and Hywel Davies on the winner Last Suspect passed me by!
TS: I heard Grandpa in my head when I first won the Grand National fences at Pool Master in the 2014 Grand Sefton Chase and also when I rode Soll to ninth in the 2015 National. He was doing so well.
Tom is aiming for a family record in the race his grandfather Michael won in 1959
It’s a strange feeling. I concentrate, but I can hear him speak to me, “This is what you’ve been practicing all your life. Remember what you have been told. ‘
Grandpa was a champion of things; jump over the last fence on the inside with your whip in your left hand, go straight to the elbow at the run-up, grab the rail and pull your whip to your right.
He always said that in Liverpool races are lost at the Canal Turn, but more will be lost from the last fence to the tip of the elbow. Make sure your angles are right.
MT: Tom, you’re two wins of two on Cloth Cap and he’s the all-time favorite for Saturday’s race.
TS: I respect the Any Second Now trained by Ted Walsh, but I don’t worry about the rest. It’s what Cloth Cap can do.
PS: I also like Any Second Now and Magic Of Life should be given a chance. Bristol De Mai is a class horse while Kimberlite Candy and Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve are on my shortlist.
Tom’s best finish in Aintree comes in sixth with Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017
But Cloth Cap looks best disabled in the race and the conditions will suit him. If you asked the jockeys, the majority would want to ride him. But that doesn’t make him a value bet on 4-1!
MT: Are you getting last minute advice from your dad, Tom?
PS: Of course we’ll talk, but we’ve been doing that for 30 years so there’s not much to add.
TS: I asked my father all the questions during my childhood. Now it’s up to me and cloth hat. We have to trust ourselves.