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  • Writer's pictureJo O'Neill

An Interview with Trainer Michael Scudamore

A lot of water has gone beneath the bridge since Michael Scudamore, a former professional rugby player for Ebbw Vale who never missed a tackle, took over the family yard, Eccleswall Court, and sent out his first winner in May 2008, when Directa’s Digger won at Haydock on the Flat ridden by Joe Fanning… The winners kept accumulating over both codes.

The family’s success is marked in history. His Grandfather Michael Snr won the 1959 Grand National on Oxo and the 1957 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Linwell, turning to training in his later years, father Peter was the eight-time Champion Jockey and brother Tom rode over 1400 winners. Michael Jnr is the youngest of the Scudamore brothers but that doesn’t make him any less talented, having trained nearly 200 winners from the base at Bromash, Herefordshire. Big race victories include a Welsh Grand National with Monbeg Dude, a Grand Annual with Next Sensation, an Eider Chase with Mysteree and a Devon Grand National and two December Glenfarclas Cross Country Chases with Kingswell Theatre. Most recently, in April 2022, Do Your Job won a Grade 2 at Ayr over fences.

Last month, news broke that Michael is making the move to Kinross, Perthshire to join forces with his father’s partner Lucinda Russell – with Grand Nationals and Festival winners under both their belts already, together they will be formidable force. Eccleswall Court will be run by Tom as a satellite and pre-training yard and the perfect base for southern runners, and the Scottish yards of Arlary and Kilduff will send out runners under the combined license.

In early July, Michael is making the move, along with girlfriend Gabby Gajova, who is a massive part of the yard, and sprocker spaniel Millie and Labrador Rudy. They are also taking twenty horses and keen amateur John Joe Murphy Knight. Undeniably, the future is bright.

Michael and Gabby

Did you have a horsey childhood?

We were unbelievably lucky growing up, we had lots of brilliant ponies to learn on and lived in the middle of the yard at Nigel Twiston-Davies so had horses everywhere!

Is it true that once you went from being a rugby player to a jockey?

I went from nearly 14 stone playing rugby down to around 10 stone 7 pounds to ride in some point-to-points, though I was very average!! I had a brilliant mare to ride called Fiesty Frosty and had three wins on her in my one and only season riding. I soon realised I wasn’t much good so I’d better do something else!

What kind of big brother was Tom when you were growing up?

Tom was great and we have always been very close. We were very competitive against each other doing the showjumping, etc as kids, but luckily, we have always got on very well.

Welsh Grand National winner Monbeg Dude

Describe your Dad’s character:

Dad is just mad really; I think Tom probably takes after him more than I do. I’m a bit more laid back than he is.

How did you start training?

When I was 24, I took over the license from my grandfather so about fifteen years ago. His poor health meant he couldn’t continue so it was a good time to take over. Plus, I even lived quite nearby as I was based in Ross-on-Wye. There was plenty of learning on the go as Dad wasn’t around then either but we worked hard. Even when I was playing rugby, training racehorses always appealed to me and was something I wanted to do from a young age. Even when I was training myself, I always tried to relate it to training horses.

Who was the biggest influence to become a trainer?

My grandfather was easily the biggest influence on me as a person and wanting to train. He was just a great man, who was respected by everyone for what he did but, more importantly, for how he was. He was just the ultimate gentleman, they don’t make them like that anymore, as he would say.

Favourite racecourse:

Newcastle has always been very lucky for us and, I think, we have had more winners there than anywhere else. Cheltenham is the best place to have a winner though and thankfully it has been quite lucky as well!!

Grand Annual winner Next Sensation

What are the favourite horses you’ve trained?

Monbeg Dude and Next Sensation were two wonderful horses who came early on in my career, which helped massively. Monbeg was a star winning the Welsh National and being third in a Grand National and Next Sensation winning at Cheltenham festival ridden by Tom was something else!

What are your most memorable days so far?

Next Sensation winning at the Cheltenham Festival was amazing, especially as he was ridden by Tom for our family friends, the Blandfords. The whole family was there to enjoy it, and celebrating all together is a great memory.

What is the best racing celebration you’ve attended?

The parties after Earth Summit won the Grand National. I was only young but the parties seemed to go on for days!

How do you reflect back on your time training at Eccles Wall Court?

There are so many great memories. It is such a wonderful area to live, with so many wonderful people who helped us so much along the way – I will miss them the most. We are lucky it is such a picturesque place to train – standing on the gallops on a nice day with those views is something else I will also really miss.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

How are you feeling about the future?

We’re very excited by the future and the project we are undertaking as a family. There will be plenty of challenges, I am sure, and plenty of new things to get used to but can’t wait to get up there.

Favourite food: I love crunchy nut cereal, would just eat that if I was allowed.

Favourite drink: I am not a drinker so usually just a coke for me!

Favourite music: I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen but went to see Coldplay a couple of years ago – that was amazing.

Other hobbies: I love playing golf, I’m just very bad at it.

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