Peter Scudamore

As a child, it wasn’t long before I realised what I was getting myself into. I was riding in my first show and when I entered the ring the announcer said: “And here’s Peter Scudamore, son of the Grand National-winning jockey Michael.” Right on cue, my pony refused three times at the first obstacle.

I wasn’t born when dad won the [1957] Gold Cup and I was one when he won the [1959] Grand National. One of the early memories I have of his career is when he took the fall that would end his riding days. He clipped heels on the Flat at Warwick; I was seven at the time.

Dad encouraged me to become a jockey. We had a close relationship but we didn’t talk about my riding as fathers and sons do today. There were no mobile phones; it would often be a few days after I’d ridden in a race that I’d get back home and have the discussion.

Peter Scudamore in action on Sabin Du Loir in 1989

I had two young sons [Tom’s brother is Michael, trainer of Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude] but it never played on my mind that I was away so much. In my day we had Sundays off and we didn’t ride in the summer, so I had plenty of time to get involved with the children. I’d watch them at Pony Club and playing rugby. They had an idyllic upbringing in the Cotswolds, just as I had.

When I retired [in 1993] I said that not winning the Gold Cup or the Grand National, as my father had, wasn’t such a big deal. I still feel that way now. Of course I’d love to have won them but first and foremost I was a professional making a living. That was always a big thing for me.

The thing I am proud of from my riding days was what Martin Pipe and I achieved together

I retired because I increasingly found myself wondering what I would do afterwards. I could have ridden longer but if I’d gone downhill, I wouldn’t have been in as good a position. I had the job with the BBC, my column in the Daily Mail was lined up, and I’d invested in Nigel Twiston-Davies’s set-up, where I became assistant trainer. I felt the time had come.

The thing I am proud of from my riding days was what Martin Pipe and I achieved together. I was only riding them but he was training horses differently and making it work. Just the fact that he trained a horse gave you confidence when you went out to ride it.

But beyond that, I am most proud of my family and what everyone has achieved. The legacy dad left us was one of toughness and honour, although I wish he’d left us a few more quid! We are all aware that it’s much easier for families like ours to achieve in horseracing. The kid from the back street doesn’t have the chance to ride like we did as kids, and I think we appreciate that. We know how lucky we are.
The relationship between Tom and I is different from the one I had with my father. We can talk on the phone straight after a race. In the early days it was difficult watching Tom ride. I once told him exactly what he should have done in a race and it made him angry, understandably.

You’ve got to find the right way to say things, rather than say it straight out. I am more pig-headed than Tom; he is more intelligent. His career has progressed and he doesn’t ride like I did. I don’t think people automatically see him as my son any more, which is great.

I suppose I was proud he wanted to follow in my footsteps. I knew there would be pressure, especially when he took over AP McCoy’s role as stable jockey at the Pipe stable. People want the next in line to be even better than the one before, and while Tom is probably a better jockey than I was, I won all those titles.

It was a big thrill to see Tom ride 100 winners in a season for the first time [2013-14 campaign]. I started riding at a time when 70 winners would make you champion jockey, but to ride 100 winners is still a big milestone. It shows you are up there with the best.

Tom is riding better than he ever has. I don’t think he ever lacked self-confidence; he sat his A-Levels before he turned professional. Being a jockey is a bit like being a golfer. If you try too hard, or think too much, you get tense, and that’s not the right way. I feel Tom is more relaxed now, and it shows in his riding.

When the Cheltenham Festival comes round I can sense Tom’s demeanour changing slightly. I remember getting a bit revved up, but the build-up was nothing like what it is today. You might have thought you had a chance of winning a race but you never saw the Irish horses until they came to Cheltenham. You never really knew what you were up against.

And because the build-up wasn’t so hyped, you didn’t start thinking about Cheltenham so far in advance. I remember thinking the most important thing was to get there in one piece. When you’re there you soon realise it’s not a normal day’s racing. You’re not down at the start at Taunton with two to beat, you’re one of 16, all of them up for it. It’s a different intensity, so the mental attitude has to be different.

I’m obviously aware of the danger element in what Tom is doing but when I watch him ride I probably block it out. If you thought about the dangers in getting behind the wheel of a car, you might not do it at all. Having ridden myself, I guess I know there’s no escaping it.
I am now a grandfather but I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about not having a grandson to bore with stories of my riding days.

My two granddaughters, Margot and Myrtle, have added a wonderful new dimension to the family. Young children constantly surprise you. They both ride and they love horses, so there could yet be another racing chapter in the family to be written. In the meantime, I shall just sit back and be amused by them.

Tom Scudamore

As a teenager I was really into my rugby. It looked as though I was going to be too big to be a jockey, but fortunately I didn’t grow any taller. The truth is that I never wanted to be anything other than a jockey.

Mum (Marilyn) was always very supportive. She took Michael and I to all the Pony Club and showjumping competitions because dad always had work commitments, so she was the driving force. Mum knew I was obsessed by racing.

I was aware dad was away a lot when I was a child, but that’s just the way it was. If I had a day off I’d go racing with dad. It was a wonderful existence being brought up in the weighing room.

I always talked to dad about everything to do with racing. With mum, it was more about things like how she coped with dad being away so much. I was aware the same thing might happen to me if I made it, and thought it might help me to be understanding towards my wife. I still speak to mum most days now.

Dad was very involved with the early part of my career, I’d go through virtually every ride with him or granddad

I knew that dad was champion jockey from a very early age, but the first vivid memory I have is of him winning the [1988] Champion Hurdle on Celtic Shot. I was five and at school in Chipping Campden. Michael and I listened to the race on the radio and when dad won, my teacher, who was a nun, came rushing over to us. It was all very exciting. I remember it being a really big deal. I was elated, and from then on I remember absolutely everything dad achieved, everything he did, and of feeling very proud.

I’d be absolutely enthralled when we went to see my grandfather. He had a video with loads of old Grand Nationals, which he played endlessly. We went through footage of the National he won time and time again. It was an extraordinary feeling to have someone in the family who’d not just ridden in it, but won it.

Tom Scudamore with his dad at the races in 1992

I remember my early experiences of riding out on the roads with him. He’d tell me about all the various courses, the best way to ride them, meeting the Queen and Queen Mother. They were exciting stories for a young boy to hear.

Dad was very involved with the early part of my career. I’d go through virtually every ride with him or granddad, who always kept things simple. Dad found it hard not to over-analyse. I don’t mind listening to him because I’ve heard so much I can almost finish off his sentences.

My dad was driven all his life and he made me understand how bloody hard it was going to be. One day he screwed up and Fred Winter sat him down and said: “It’s not a game out there, it’s a war. It’s all very well for you, but I’ve been training this horse for six months and the jobs of all the lads at home depend on success. You’ve got the whole weight of the yard behind you, so you can’t afford to make mistakes.” It made a huge impression when I heard that story.

Both dad and granddad tried to drum into me that I had to be mentally and physically prepared every day, because you never know when opportunity might come your way. You’re only going to get so many of those as a young jockey, so you had better be ready. Otherwise some other bugger will take your place!

I’ve always found dad’s input more a help than a hindrance. The family’s achievements have served as a spur; you don’t want to be the one left behind. But in your own way, you want to do something different. It sounds daft, but two races I’ve always wanted to win are the Whitbread and the Schweppes, as they were known. They are the only two big races yet to be won by a Scudamore.

Some people at school would say I’d only have the chance to make it as a jockey because of who my father was. There was one kid who I played rugby with, a complete tosser, who kept saying that to me. It was water off a duck’s back – and I’m sure I was an arrogant little bastard myself at the time.

There were times when it has been tough, but that’s true in any walk of life. I remember just before I got the job with David Pipe [in 2007] I was pissed off. I wondered where I was going, what I was doing. But you can’t afford to be negative because that opportunity might be just round the corner. Sure enough, within a week I won the Eider Chase for Venetia Williams on Nil Desperandum and my career took off again.

My first ride at the Festival was Enivrant in the 2000 Kim Muir, and I remember being very hungry as I had to ride at 9st 12lb, I was still at school then. The other memory I have is of disappointment; the horse didn’t run well at all.

Experience counts for a lot at the Festival. The more you do it, the more you realise you’re not riding the occasion. When you’re out there you have to treat it as just another race. You realise more and more it’s about doing your job. You’ll have bad days but you’ve got to pick yourself up. The next day is the most important.

My best Festival memory to date is winning the Ryanair Chase last year on Dynaste. The worst was when dad rode Carvill’s Hill in the 1992 Gold Cup. It was meant to be the one: dad was convinced for months beforehand the horse couldn’t get beaten. We were all there and we thought he just had to show up, but we could see from an early stage it wasn’t going to plan.

We went to supper afterwards and dad was down, although to be fair he was much better than we expected. He could get very down and I remember thinking we wouldn’t get a word out of him that night, but he just said: “Our name just wasn’t on the cup.”

I was absolutely aware of the dangers of riding from the early days. It wasn’t dressed up for us. We were always worried when somebody picked us up from school who we weren’t expecting. It invariably meant dad was in hospital somewhere.

To get to 100 winners for the first time was a great feeling. The quality in David’s string is increasing and who knows? With AP retiring, the prospect of winning the jockeys’ title isn’t as distant as it was. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. It’s a chance to achieve something that seemed way out of reach until recently. Dad won it eight times, but I’m nothing like so greedy. One would do nicely.