Michael Scudamore: Jockey who won the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup and became a trainer and patriarch of a racing dynasty

 

In a sport which places much emphasis on pedigrees and breeding, there could hardly be a more appropriate legacy left by Michael Scudamore, patriarch of a notable racing dynasty. He was not only one of the toughest and most talented jump jockeys of his generation – winner of both the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup - but also, to use the modern vernacular, a top bloke, distinguished by his unfailing kindness and encouragement to those making their way in the game.

His son Peter and grandsons Tom and Michael have carried on the family traditions with considerable pride; no surprise, perhaps, with such a role model. Scudamore was brought up with horses; his father Geoffrey, a farmer, rode as an amateur and trained point-to-pointers. Michael's first ride under rules was when he was 15, though it was nearly two more years before he scored his first victory, on Wild Honey in a minor contest at Chepstow in February 1950.

His third success came three weeks later in a rather better arena, when he won the Gloucestershire Hurdle on 25-1 shot Sir Charles at the Cheltenham Festival for his father's small stable. That was the springboard to a distinguished career, in the course of which he rode for some of the sports leading operators.

Scudamore's background in the hunting field and point-to-points honed him as a horseman before he was a jockey, and he particularly excelled over fences; of his 10 Cheltenham Festival wins, only two were over the smaller obstacles, hurdles, and the best horses he rode were all steeplechasers.

His Gold Cup victory came on Linwell in 1957; he conjured a tremendous leap from the nine-year-old from Ivor Herbert's stable at the second last fence that gave him first run on his chief rival Kerstin and a length's advantage he held to the line. He won a King George VI Chase on the Peter Cazalet-trained Rose Park in 1956; partnered Frank Cundell's extraordinary Crudwell to 14 of his 50 victories, including the last in September 1960; and won a Cotswold Chase on Greektown, trained by Willie Stephenson, at the 1964 Cheltenham Festival.

The classiest animal with which he was associated was Mandarin. During the 1956-57 season he rode and educated the future star of Fulke Walwyn's stable as a novice, a campaign that culminated in a 25-length victory in the Broadway Chase. It is for his exploits in the Grand National, though, that Scudamore is probably best-remembered, for a variety of reasons. He compiled a remarkable sequence of 16 successive rides from 1951 (East A'Calling, brought down at the first in an 11-horse pile-up) to 1966 (Greek Scholar, fell at the second Becher's), a record that stood until last year, when Richard Johnson and Timmy Murphy both notched 17 in a row.

Scudamore finished second in the Aintree showpiece on Legal Joy in 1952, third on Irish Lizard in 1954, and won it on Oxo, a former pointer trained by Willie Stephenson, in 1959. He had to sit tight as eight-year-old Oxo, in the lead, hit the last fence hard, but the race was most notable for the ill-luck endured by the length-and-a-half runner-up Wyndburgh, whose jockey Tim Brookshaw had to ride virtually bareback from Becher's after a stirrup broke.

But fortunate or not, he remains the only member of his family to ride a National winner, despite efforts from succeeding generations. Peter, eight times champion jockey, never came closer than third in 12 attempts and Tom's best finish in 13 rides has been eighth.

Scudamore's was a sporting arena fraught with much more hazard than today's – flimsy helmets that tended to come off, no body protectors, concrete posts delineating courses, bigger and more formidable fences and sometimes rudimentary medical facilities. But he was hard and fit, with a greater work ethic and more measured lifestyle than many of his contemporaries, and kept relatively free of injury until badly damaging his left eye in a fall that ended his career in November 1966. He retired with 496 winners over 18 seasons but was never champion, his best position being second to Fred Winter in 1956-57.

His second career was lower-key; in two stints as a trainer (1967-95, 2003-08) his biggest success came with Bruslee in the 1974 Mackeson (now Paddy Power) Gold Cup. He had one Festival winner, Fortina's Palace in the 1970 Grand Annual Chase but was arguably unlucky not to saddle a National winner. Despite a slipping saddle and being repeatedly hampered, Charles Dickens was a strong-finishing third in 1974, seven lengths and a short-head behind Red Rum and L'Escargot.

Before handing the licence to his namesake at the family stables at Bromsash six years ago, his last significant win was the Haydock National Trial with Heltornic, ridden by his other grandson, Tom. He took equal pleasure from Michael Jr's victory with Monbeg Dude last year in the Welsh Grand National (a race he had won as a jockey on Creeola 56 years previously) and when the brothers teamed up to score with Monbeg Dude, seventh in the latest National, at Cheltenham last December.

Scudamore, who had been suffering from cancer, died just three days after his wife of 57 years, Mary.

SUE MONTGOMERY

Michael John Scudamore, jockey and trainer: born 17 July 1932; married 1957 Mary Duffield (died 2014; one son); died 7 July 2014.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower