Racing: Scudamore lands on fertile ground: The former champion jump jockey has retired without regrets, but still relishes a grandstand finish. Colin Cameron reports

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The Independent Online
A YEAR ago, arrangements for the Mackeson Gold Cup were pretty straightforward for Peter Scudamore. He was the reigning champion jump jockey, widely acclaimed as the toughest, strongest rider in a tight finish. Peter Scudamore was in demand.

This weekend, for the first time since 1979, Scudamore, now retired, will not be riding in the Mackeson. Indeed, though he is now assistant trainer, and a full business partner, at Nigel Twiston-Davies's yard, his participation may be limited to the role of interested observer, an unconsidered option 12 months ago. Neither of Twiston-Davies's entries, last year's winner, Tipping Tim, and Young Hustler, is likely to run.

A record-breaking career in the plate - eight jockeys' championships, 1,678 winners - has, at least, ensured that Scudamore will be well rewarded for his less active participation from the television gantry and the press box. The transition from jockey to media figure and budding trainer has been achieved with ease. Of the television work he now does for the BBC, Scudamore reflects: 'The hardest thing I find is having to get everything right.' It is a target he consistently achieves on air. His written contributions include a recently published autobiography.

Inevitably, though, Scudamore misses riding. Even at 35, he remains a partial slave to the old weighing-room routine. 'When I am down about missing the riding I think, at least I can eat. But I try to keep fit and I try not to eat too much. Days in London are difficult, but, if I'm at home I might go for a run or ride out.'

Difficult, too, has been the termination of his close professional association with Martin Pipe, the champion trainer. Since retiring, Scudamore has paid frequent tribute to Pipe, but the pair share a ferociously competitive instinct for the game. Now, in opposition to a degree, a distance is apparent. After all, Scudamore took with him Pipe's pioneering training techniques and Twiston-Davies has been employing them against their originator with notable success.

Scudamore's posture and mannerisms give it away. The transformation is, as yet, unfinished. There is still a lot of jockey left in him. Even in civvies he stands, legs apart, arms folded, or behind his back, an invisible whip in hand. You half expect him to touch an imaginary jockey's cap. His hands betray a yearning for the reins. Ask him about Tipping Tim - 'horses like him are so tough, they would die for you' - and he positively wrestles with the bridle in his head. Mention Carvill's Hill, and he immediately brings his hands together in an effort to steady the huge chaser.

But the combination of newspaperman, broadcaster and part-time trainer - 'if you want to have a horse in training, send it to me and Nigel' - has at least provided Scudamore with continued financial security. He invested the spoils of the saddle wisely and nurtured outlets for his wisdom. The dividend is a promising future to go with the achievements of the past.

Another former champion, Terry Biddlecombe, suggests that Scudamore's preparation for retirement is an example to others. Biddlecombe, laughs at the thought of the jockeys of his era planning so thoroughly for their retirement. But in today's world he maintains: 'It is wise to follow the example of someone like Peter'.

Scudamore's son, Michael, has his own view on his father's riding career: 'Daddy, you might look back one day and think that those 13 years were a waste of time.' And anyway, last year's Mackeson is a sore point. Scudamore fell partnering Milford Quay.

(Photograph omitted)

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