An Interview with Ex-Jockey Tom Scudamore
Updated: Sep 18
The announcement of retirement came swiftly after an unseat at a weekday meeting at Leicester but there’s no disagreement that, for the last twenty-five years, Tom Scudamore was a top class jockey. Racing is in his blood: his late Grandfather, up there with the best of his generation, Michael Snr won a Cheltenham Gold Cup on Linwell in 1957 and a Grand National on Oxo in ’59 and his father Peter, the first ‘Scu’, was the legendary eight-time Champion jockey of the following generation.
With his total of 1499 wins, Tom is ranked as tenth in the best National Hunt jockeys of all time. His first winner over jumps was on Young Thruster in an amateur hurdle round Newton Abbot in November 1998, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, for whom his father had been assistant for many years, including when Earth Summit won the Grand National. Tom’s Mum Marilyn helps run the Herefordshire yard where younger brother Michael successfully trained and Peter is now assistant trainer to the Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell.
Tom, 40, continued the family tradition with ten Cheltenham Festival victories, including back-to-back wins in the Ultima on Temps Pour Tout, 2015 Champion Bumper on Moon Racer and a memorable success in the Grand Annual in 2015 on Next Sensation. He won thirteen Grande 1s and three Hennessy Gold Cups on Madison Du Berlais, Sizing Tennessee and Cloth Cap. The bold Thistlecrack gave Tom many big wins, including in a Stayers’ Hurdle and a King George, and he won two Grade 1 Feltham Novices’ Chases on Grands Crus and Dynaste, who also won a Ryanair Chase and Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
Portraying a loyalty not always present within sport, Tom rode for the Pipe Family for twenty-three years. Initially, Tom was with Martin Pipe from 2000-06, for whom he scored his first ever winner on the Flat at Warwick on Nordic Breeze in July 1998, and stayed put when his son David took over in 2006 right up to retirement last month. Tom was a greatly respected member of the weighing room and a friend to many.
Born and bred in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Tom grew up on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Cotswold yard. ‘Naunton and Guiting Power are my home villages,’ explains Tom, despite living on the edge of Exmoor for the last twenty years before recently moving to Wellington, Somerset. He has two daughters Margot and Myrtle from his first marriage and Ava Grace with wife Sara. They also have a miniature poodle, Shelby.
Last week, news hit that Michael will be combining licenses with Lucinda Russell, a move that will see his stables relocating to Kinross, Scotland. Tom will be taking over Eccles Wall Court as a pre-training yard - exciting times ahead for the whole Scudamore family.
Did you have a horsey childhood?
Very very much so. I did absolutely everything on ponies, I was in the Pony Club, grew up around ponies and had a go at everything. The main thing I did growing up was show jumping.
Do you have any particularly good memories of growing up in the Cotswolds?
I remember having fantastic friends. There was a lot of us and I was fortunate to have such a good group of friends.
The late Michael Snr, Tom, Michael Jnr and Peter
Photo Credit: Racingfotos.com
Who is your racing hero?
I’ve got a lot of heroes but my Father and Grandfather were my utter inspirations.
Which was your favourite racehorse?
Lough Derg. Without him none of the good ones would have followed. I'm very lucky to have ridden so many good horses. I loved riding Thistlecrack but Lough Derg was my favourite.
Which was your favourite racecourse?
I loved riding round Exeter, Newbury and Cheltenham.
Which was the day in racing that meant the most to you?
My favourite memory is winning the Grand Annual on Next Sensation for my brother Michael, who trained it. He was also owned by some very close family friends so as emotional days go, that was the best. I am so privileged to have achieved all that I achieved – I had so many fantastic days that it's hard to separate them but that is the one day that I that meant the most.
How did your Dad help you throughout your riding career?
He was always there for advice and for giving me pointers. Whatever capacity I needed him, he was there for me throughout my career. He was a rock.
Generally, what does racing do well at?
Racing is a phenomenal sport but a sport that can be taken for granted. It's about the horses and because of them, it's a fantastic day out. There are very few things you can do together as a family like going racing. People can go racing from babies in a pram right up to the elderly – there is no other sport that has such a pull for all ages or that attraction for all ages.
Ticking off a King George, Boxing Day 2016, on Thistlecrack
And, where could improvements be made?
In lots of ways. The most important improvement is looking after the product – there’s a lot of money in racing and going through racing it is distributed is negative. It doesn't support the people within the sport enough. Urgent attention is needed to how owners are primarily looked after, then the rest will follow through.
What are your plans for the future?
I've got lots of options. I don't know for sure what I will be doing at the moment but I'm sure it will involve the media. I'll stay within the sport and continue to contribute to it.
Favourite meal: My favourite is anything to do with fish but I love smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. It's my absolute go to meal.
Favourite drink: For a soft drink, it's a flavoured water, especially an elderflower sparkling water and I love a glass of red wine.
Favourite holiday destination: On honeymoon, we went to San Francisco and the surrounding area – that’s the best place I've ever been to.
Other hobbies: I play a guitar very badly and I follow rugby and cricket religiously.
Favourite music: I love lots of genres of music but my favourite to listen to is ‘70s rock – Rolling Stones, Dire Straits and The Beatles.
Favourite film: An amazing Italian film called Life Is Beautiful. It has everything a film should have – it’s funny and emotional and has the greatest ending.