'Riding horses was the only thing to do': Peter Scudamore tells Nicholas Roe of his ambitious childhood

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Indy Lifestyle Online
IT'S A picture of my sister, my mother and myself at a showground when I was nine or 10 - a local gymkhana, I think. The funny thing about it is that my sister has a smile on her face and I have a frown, and the reason is that we had only one hunting hat, and she's wearing it. I can remember us arguing, and how vitally important it was that she got one up on me over that hat.

I went to the first showjumping competition I ever entered by myself around this time, and, going into the ring, the commentator announced that this was Peter Scudamore, son of the great National Hunt jockey Michael Scudamore, who won the Grand National in 1959 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1957, and this was going to be an outstanding young rider. I proceeded to refuse three times at the first fence and was eliminated.

I never wanted to be anything else, though. I was always proud of what my father had done and I glorified riding. I thought it was the only thing to do and that people who rode horses for a living were somebody.

That was just the way I thought, though my mother was dead against it. She would give me as much food as possible, hoping I would grow too big. Yes, my father had done well out of riding, but he also ended up in hospital and it nearly killed him. And it's like going into acting, it's not a secure job.

Father always said that if he had his time over again he would do the same thing. That was his advice. But I never had a doubt, anyway - about anything, in fact.

One of the stories my father told me was that when I was a kid I said I could swim before I really could. We were at the beach and I wanted to run into the sea, and he said, 'You can't swim.' I said, 'Of course I can.' So he marched out with me up to my waist and said, 'Right. Swim.' And down to the bottom I sank. That was my attitude. I could run before I could walk, with

everything.

Riding was different. With riding I'd done it before I could walk so it was all part of maturing. I didn't like the mundane things like cleaning out the horses, cleaning the tack, but put me on a pony and I would ride all day. I used to pick up a stone and say, 'If I hit that post I will be champion jockey.' And I'd pick up another stone and throw it at a bucket and say, 'If it lands inside, I will win the Grand National.' My whole life was wanting to do it and if I missed at first I would pick up another stone until I did throw it in there.

I've always felt that dreams get in your way, that if you dream about something it's about the achievements themselves rather than achieving it. I think I did dream, but it was more of riding 100 winners in a season, of winning the Grand National.

My father was never champion jockey, but I always thought that people who won the Grand National were far better than champion jockeys. I used to think: well, my dad's won the Grand National, he's far better - as kids do. My own achievement was that I became champion jockey and never won the Grand National.

I met a great trainer one day and he said, 'It doesn't matter how many winners you ride, you will never be satisfied.' My overwhelming feeling, looking at this picture, is that I wish I could get through to that little brain what I know now through experience. That little brain never thought of tomorrow and I just think I could have been better.

(Photograph omitted)

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