Family ties put to the test as Scudamore brothers face Welsh National showdown

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BRAGGING rights will be on the line when brothers Tom and Michael Scudamore look to maintain family tradition in today’s rearranged Coral Welsh National.

The former rides Master Overseer, a mudlark who should relish Chepstow’s bottomless conditions, while his younger sibling trains the progressive Monbeg Dude, who is owned by international rugby union players Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson.

The brothers are the third generation of one of National Hunt racing’s most distinguished families to win this three-mile, five furlong stamina test that has been delayed for 10 days because of waterlogged conditions.

Their grandfather Michael won the 1957 renewal on the Fred Rimell-trained Creeola II – while their father Peter landed the marathon on four occasions courtesy of Run and Skip (1985) for John Spearing. His subsequent victories on Bonanza Boy (1988 and ‘89) and Carvill’s Hill (1991) came when trainer Martin Pipe was monopolising the prestigious handicap with five triumphs in six years.

Today’s race is one of the most open since the race moved to its present venue in 1949 – 17-time champion jockey AP McCoy rides Teaforthree, a Cheltenham Festival-winner for Pembrokeshire trainer Rebecca Curtis, while in-form Sam Twiston-Davies rides Viking Blond for his father Nigel.

Yet, while the Scudamore rivalry could not be friendlier, victory will mean more to the younger brother who is the least known member of this sporting dynasty.

Unlike his elder brother whose horsemanship and tactical acumen has matured thanks to his association with horses like 2008 Hennessy winner Madison du Berlais, the precocious grey Grands Crus and the top novice Dynaste, it has taken slightly longer for Scudamore junior to make his mark in the training ranks.

He does not have the riding heritage of his forebears; his formative years were spent slugging it out as a back-row openside flanker for Gloucester’s academy team as well as Ebbw Vale and the Welsh Under-19 team.

“I love rugby, but you do know when you are not good enough,” Scudamore, 28, told the Yorkshire Post.

“Training always interested me more than riding, perhaps because of my physical build – or actually wanting to do something different.”

A dual-purpose trainer based on the Welsh borders near Ross-on-Wye, the Scudamore stable has gradually accumulated winners over the past five seasons.

Its most significant victory came in testing conditions at Cheltenham in mid-November when Jamie Moore conjured a winning run out of Monbeg Dude in the Grade Three Henrietta Knight Chase.

On the day when the aforementioned Grands Crus was bitterly disappointing in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, at least one of the Scudamore brothers went home deliriously happy.

The up-and-coming trainer’s landmark first winner at Cheltenham, he was fortunate that he was able to share the famous triumph with his 80-year-old grandfather who told racegoers that “the stable needs just one horse to make a name for itself, but they don’t come cheap or fall off trees”.

Could Monbeg Dude be that horse? Moore’s unavailability because of commitments to his own father Gary at Sandown, and the presence of last year’s Midlands National hero and last month’s Cheltenham winner Master Overseer in the line-up, has led to the eye-catching booking of Paul Carberry, the former Grand National-winning jockey.

“The way he travelled up the Cheltenham hill, the extra two furlongs should be no problem,” said Scudamore. “To get a rider of Paul’s calibre, he’s a genius at these hold-up rides, is brilliant. He’s not a bad substitute for my brother.

“Our gallops have been waterlogged so we’ve used a farmer’s field.

“The delay has probably helped; I don’t know whether the Cheltenham race left its mark.

“It’s so exciting just to have a runner. The race means a lot. Dad won it four times – and trust Grandad to have been first past the post in his career. They’ve been great to me, telling me to keep it simple and work hard. A famous name is a help – it gives you a first step on the ladder to help meet wonderful people. The whole family has been great to Tom and myself – Tom’s riding is now up there with the best.

“Our mother Marilyn will be at Chepstow, but I’m not sure who she will cheer if Monbeg and Master Overseer come over the last together.

“It could be quite tricky challenge, but one I’m sure she will gladly accept.”

While Martin Pipe and Peter Scudamore have an unrivalled Welsh National record, their family successors David and Tom are still looking to break their duck.

Pipe junior has two chances – Master Overseer and the lightly-weighted Sona Sasta who carries a featherweight 9st 7lb after connections booked young amateur rider Mikey Ennis. His inexperience is the only concern.

“Both Sona Sasta and Master Overseer are in good form, they both love the mud and stay all day,” said Pipe. “Sona Sasta has shown he likes it at Chepstow and the step up in trip should be fine.

“Master Overseer battled all the way to the line at Cheltenham last month. He’s another that is a little bit in and out. If he’s on a going day and if he can get into a rhythm he’s another with the right credentials at the right end of the weights. He’ll always be one of the first horses off the bridle, but if he’s on a going day, he’ll keep going.”