Cap that – Tom Scudamore aiming to keep it in the family with Grand National success

TOM SCUDAMORE was born with the Grand National in his blood. His late grandfather, Michael, won on Oxo in 1959 while his father, Peter, the multiple champion jockey, was heavily involved with the mud-loving Earth Summit’s win in 1998.

This was Randox Grand National favourite Cloth Cap streaking clear to win Newbury's Ladbrokes Trophy under Tom Scudamore.

It also explains why the 38-year-old is relishing today’s big race ride on the progressive Cloth Cap, the Randox Grand National favourite. Some are weighed down by the burden of expectation; he is embracing the build-up and says he is “privileged” to ride for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner Trevor Hemmings, two of the sport’s greatest figures.

After all, this will be the jockey’s 19th attempt at the National – his first came in 2001 when unseated from Northern Starlight at Becher’s Brook – and he means it when he says the “thrill” now is the same as 20 years ago.

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“My grandfather won the race in 1959 and while I obviously have no recollection of that it is something the whole family is obviously very proud of,” said Scudamore when asked what the race means to him and his family.

This was Randox Grand National favourite Cloth Cap winning Newbury's Ladbrokes Trophy under Tom Scudamore.

“When Oxo won, there was a big dinner in Hereford to celebrate a couple of weeks later and we have still got the menus and cards from that.

“It is something that will always be associated with grandad and for all that dad and I have achieved, there was always the fact that Michael Scudamore had won the Grand National so he always put us in the shade a bit.

“Growing up, dad was obviously associated with Nigel Twiston-Davies and when Earth Summit won in 1998 it was absolute bedlam. That was my first realisation at age 13 or 14 about how huge it was and it absolutely blew my mind. It was a whole jamboree and after seeing all the disappointments dad had been through to see Earth Summit win it was amazing.”

He continued: “Dad and grandad had bought Earth Summit and played a massive part in his training so it was a fantastic memory. My first memory of Aintree was going there when dad rode Strands Of Gold (1989). That was very exciting as he was going very well until he fell at Becher’s second time!

Tom Scudamore with his father Peter, the eight-times champion jockey, who never won the National.

“Growing up, we would talk at Sunday lunches for hours about the Grand National. Grandad rode in I think 16 consecutive Grand Nationals which I still think is a record and dad rode in it 13 or 14 times and I think I could talk about every single ride they had and how they got on.

“It was an enormous part of my childhood. I’ll speak to dad about Cloth Cap and I might pick his brains.”

He will have to be quick – Scudamore senior, the eight times champion jockey and whose partner Lucinda Russell trained One For Arthur to win the 2017 Aintree renewal, was already feeling the nerves yesterday as the countdown continued. “It’s far worse watching than riding,” he said.

The Cloth Cap team do know what it takes to win; O’Neill saddled Don’t Push It to victory for Sir AP McCoy in 2010 and Hemmings has seen his famous white and green quartered colours carried to Aintree glory by Hedgehunter (2005), Many Clouds (2005) and Ballabriggs (2011).

A racing dynasty like no other - Michael, Tom and Peter Scudamore.

In Cloth Cap, who is named in honour of the veteran owner’s fondness for his trademark flat caps, they have a front-running horse who was a wide-margin winner of Newbury’s prestigous Ladbrokes Trophy before again making all to win Kelso’s Premier Chase last month.

The fact that win came after Cloth Cap was allotted a National weight of 10st 5lb explains why he is such a short-priced favourite.

Yet he has still got 30 fences to negotiate and 39 rivals all vying for supremacy in a race where the outcome is just as uncertain as it was in its inaugural running in 1839 when the aptly-named Lottery won.

Again Scudamore is unfazed. “In any other race he would be much shorter than 4-1. It’s a very privileged position to be in to be riding the favourite and I would much rather be riding the favourite than under the radar on an outsider. He is favourite for a reason and a very good reason,” he explains.

“Aintree always looked the natural progression for him. It all depends on the individual horse and how the race pans out as to where you want to be.

“More often than not, the winners seems to be handy but, at the same time, One For Arthur came from a long way back.

“Obviously, Cloth Cap has been ridden pretty prominently and I imagine that is what will happen again – why change anything when it isn’t broken? Things will be different with the big field but he has coped with big fields before and it’s just a case of hoping you get that little bit of luck.

“I was 18 when I first rode in the race and probably too excited but since then I have tried to concentrate on the challenges each fence presents you.”

Today will be no different – and, as Tom Scudamore freely admits, it is time for his family to win the famous race – again.

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