Tom Scudamore takes us through his weekend rides at Stratford and Ascot
Tom talks about his early Grand National memories and his rides this weekend exclusively for Coral…
I was listening to a brilliant feature on Radio 5 last night on the bomb-scare Grand National that happened twenty years ago and it brought back loads of memories.
The programme itself was done so well and reminded me how well the BBC always did racing and the big events. It was wonderfully simplistic. They just played the opening of that year’s Grand National, and used some beautiful classical music. It was about an hour long show, and then at the end they played the brilliant Champions Theme. It was such a good listen.
I remember the day itself vividly. I was fourteen years old at the time. My brother Michael had a Thai school friend over to stay for the school holidays, as it wasn’t worth him going all the way home for such a short holiday. So we had this lad staying that none of us knew, and then Michael went off on a Rugby tour, leaving us with this chap. So I took him up to Aintree with me for the day.
I forgot how close to the off of the Grand National that the bomb-scare happened. Jamie Osborne was saying how the jockeys were all getting their hats tied when they were told to get out. I had taken this lad to see the horses being saddled up when suddenly all the alarms went off. I remember thinking what the hell do we do. My Mum was over in Owners and Trainers on the other side of the paddock and I could see them all getting carted off. So I went and found Dad in the commentary box and we made for the car park, and I remember Dad turning to Nigel Twiston-Davies saying if we don’t get out now we may not get out, and we jumped in the car and got out just before they locked the place down. When we subsequently heard the stories of how everyone was walking the streets of Aintree, and had nothing but the clothes on their backs, we knew how lucky we were to get out when we did. I was back at home by 6pm.
We all went back on the Monday. We had to get bussed in because of how tight the security was. It was the first time I’d ever met Joe Tizzard. I remember this long, lanky amateur getting on the bus. We basically had to meet at a hotel, get frisked and checked there, and then we got on the bus to the track. It made the race even bigger as a result of the fact that they defied the efforts to derail it.
They didn’t think anyone would turn up on the Monday and they had the most amazing crowd. Ever since then the race has gone from strength to strength. They’ve done an amazing job of the facilities and the new stands. The Thursday and Friday used to be really quiet days and now they are big days in their own right with big crowds.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s race and riding Vieux Lion Rouge. I’m going to sit on him during the week and all is well with him. We’re very happy. David has got the National-type fences at home and they come in handy, but our horse has also been round the track itself and run well so we know he jumps them well. It’s good to be riding a leading contender for the race. It was funny listening to Jamie Osborne on the Radio 5 show describing how felt when the alarm went off at Aintree twenty years ago, which was along the lines of “ bloody hell, all my life I’ve waited to ride a decent contender for the National, and the year I’m finally on a decent contender, these bastards are going to stop it!”. That’s how I’m looking at it. When you start off as a jockey you just want to be a part of the National, and then after a while you don’t just want to take part in it you want to win the race. So I’m really looking forward to riding a horse with a genuine chance of winning the National.
My Dad and Lucinda had their press day yesterday, with One For Arthur their contender for the big race. That seemed to go well. I was speaking to him this morning and he said he was so excited he just can’t wait. Lucinda has had runners before. They had Silver By Nature who ran in it a few years ago and was a decent horse but was a mud lover and the ground went against him. Whenever Lucinda runs horses in the race they are always leading contenders, the likes of Strong Resolve and Silver By Nature, so they know how to deal with the pressures of having a serious contender.
I’m riding at Stratford on Saturday. I ride Green Or Black in the first at 1.40 having his first run over hurdles. Neil Mulholland is on 97 winners for the season so we’re desperate to get his century up which will be a great achievement for Neil and the team. It will be the first time they’ve reached three figures. He was a 75 rated flat horse, he’ll be well schooled and hopefully can go well.
I’m on Bubsy Burbidge in the second division of the novice hurdle at 2.10. He came second to a horse I rode on his debut and then disappointed last time. He will need to bounce back from that.
At 2.45 I ride Poisoned Berry. She drops into selling class. She wouldn’t be the most consistent but you can make a case for her on her winning form from Exeter.
Monetaire, who I ride in the 3.20, has basically been disappointing since finishing second at the Cheltenham Festival in the Plate, when he was slow away from a standing start. He’s not run remotely close to that form since. This is a big drop in class for him, the course and distance should be fine and I’m hopeful of a very big run. He hasn’t had much racing in his life, and wouldn’t be the most robust of horses, but just as with all of David’s horses he’ll be ready to rock tomorrow. It just depends on how much ability he retains at the age of eleven.
I’ve then picked up the ride on Goodnight Charlie in the 4.30. He won last time at Towcester. A slight concern would be the fact that Stratford is a very different track to Towcester, but hopefully the step up in trip will offset that. We’ll see how we go.
On Sunday I ride two at Ascot. I ride Three Star General in the first at 2.00. He had decent form without winning on the Flat. He’s schooled well at home and gets a few allowances as he’s a four year old. I then ride Court By Surprise for Emma Lavelle. The better ground will hopefully suit him. He’s on a good mark but he will need to bounce back as his form has regressed recently.