“It’s the proudest thing I did in racing” reflects Peter Scudamore on milestone moment

PETER SCUDAMORE had little time for reflection after making racing history on this night in 1989 when he became the first National Hunt jockey in history to ride 200 winners in a season.

Peter Scudamore retired from riding in 1993 after 1,678 career wins. This was him after his final winner at Ascot.

By the next morning, he had travelled from Towcester – the track where Gay Moore recorded the landmark win – to the Devon border to ride out for his boss Martin Pipe.

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He wanted to school horses to help Pipe reach his own double century of winners by the time that the 1988-89 season ended. That mission, too, was, ultimately, a victorious one.

Peter Scudamore with his son Tom who is a top National Hunt jockey.

Yet only now does the 61-year-old, a standard-bearer for a family who have devoted their lives to racing, appreciate the magnitude of his achievement.

“I suppose it hits you more in a time of reflection like now,” he told The Yorkshire Post. “I am very fortunate but this is the first time I’ve sat down and reflected on things for a long period.

“When you pack up from racing, as AP (McCoy) alluded to, we’re not millionaires – and I am not asking for sympathy. You have to throw yourself into work again and making a living again.”

This, says Scudamore, is a family that prides itself on “the ability to work hard”. So, too, does his great friend – and rival – John Francome.

Three generations of a legensary racing family - Peter Scudamore (right) with his late father Michael (left) and son Tom (centre). Photo: Andy Watts / Racingfotos.com

“Peter would have been successful, no matter what he did, because he was a thinker,” he said. “He could work things out. He wasn’t a natural jockey, but he made himself into a really good jockey.”

By the late 1980s, Scudamore – and Pipe – were National Hunt racing’s dominant force. “The Somerset sorcerer,” said the eight-times champion jockey who is assistant trainer to his partner Lucinda Russell who won the 2017 Gramd National with One For Arthur.

“They were family. Martin, his wife Carol, their son David. We got on. We set about breaking records and proving people wrong. Before Sir Alex Ferguson did the same at Manchester United, we created a fortress mentality and had the most utmost belief in each other to succeed.”

Scudamore had calculated – as Francome alluded to in his testimonial – that 200 winners was possible after 132 victories the previous year. He had the connections, especially Pipe. He was injury-free.

Back in the day - Peter Scudamore's many big race wins included the 1988 Champion Hurdle on Celtic Shot for owner David Horton.

But he had a blank Cheltenham. He missed a winner at Wolverhampton because he was required to attend a Downing Street reception being hosted by Margaret Thatcher where Nicholas Ridley, the then Environment Secretary (and near neighbour), told him rather curtly: “Oh, you’re a jockey. I don’t like racing.”

And as Scudamore edged closer to his 200th success, the winners dried up and the pressure showed. Cue a day like no other on April 27, 1989, which began with the jockey on the 197 mark and heading to his local track Hereford. “If you were born in Herefordshire, you rode a horse,” he said.

En route, he received a call to say he had picked up a spare ride – Gay Moore – at Towcester. He looked up the form which was workmanlike, ideal for a three mile chase at a heavy ground track famed for his stiff uphill finish.

As Scudamore suspected, he drew a blank at Hereford before catching a helicopter to Towcester in a helicopter commandeered by ITN who were filming his quest.

Peter Scudamore with his partner Lucinda Russell. They won the 2017 Grand National with One For Arthur.

However he forgot to tell them about the later ride on Michael Robinson’s Gay Moore. “I’m tired, it’s not their fault. You are trying to be professional and concentrate on other things,” he says by way of explanation.

Scudamore’s first two rides at Towcester, an undulating track lost to racing in recent times, were winning ones on Old Kilpatrick and Canford Palm, taking him to 199.

Yet, as he weighed out to ride Gay Moore, the ITN crew adjourned to the bar to wait for a later race in which Scudamore was partnering the odds-on favourite Market Forces.

“They were having a drink and suddenly heard ‘Peter Scudamore coming to the last and about to break the record’,” he recalled. “They had to run out and just caught me in time coming over the line. That’s my main memory. And then making it four on the night.”

Scudamore went on to ride 221 winners that year; a standout number subsequently surpassed by Sir AP McCoy who rues, to this day, not recording 300 successes in a campaign.

“To ride 200 winners, it never got the publicity that it might have deserved,” added Scudamore. “It might be that I did it on a Monday night at Towcester – it was too late for the papers and, by Wednesday, it was old news.

“But it’s the proudest thing I did in racing and the fact that I did it at a rural course like Towcester is what National Hunt racing is all about.

“People think you turned up and rode winners. It showed that it was all about hard work.

“When we broke the record for Martin (Pipe) at Stratford, we lined up and the horse to my side lashed out, missing Anti Matter, by inches. All the dreams, work, planning, gone in an instant. You have to be lucky.”

But Peter Scudamore also made his own luck.

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