Grand National: Tom Scudamore talks Cloth Cap and his famous racing family

The Scudamore name is already etched in Grand National folklore and Tom Scudamore looks to become the latest member of the clan to make his mark when he partners hot favourite Cloth Cap at Aintree on Saturday April 10.

Grandfather Michael won the world’s most famous race when partnering Oxo to victory in 1959 and still holds the record for the most consecutive rides in the race (16) while Tom has ridden in the Aintree spectacle 18 times and his best finishing position was when sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge in 2017.

For father and eight-time Champion Jockey Peter, there was to be no Grand National winner in 13 rides in the race but his link with the National stems back to his purchase of 1998 winner Earth Summit with Michael Scudamore when he was assistant to Nigel Twiston-Davies, and he was also instrumental in the training of One For Arthur when that horse landed a famous victory for Lucinda Russell in 2017.

Tom said: “It is a race that you want to be involved in and growing up it is the race I wanted to win most. It doesn’t add any more pressure on to it having spent your whole career trying to win it, but it would just be the pinnacle as far as I am concerned.

“My grandfather won the race in 1959 and while I obviously have no recollection it is something the family is obviously very proud of. When Oxo won there was a big dinner in Hereford to celebrate a couple of weeks later and we still have the menus and the cards from that. It is something that will always be associated with grandfather and for 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.”

Tom continued: “Growing up we would talk at Sunday lunches for hours about the Grand National. Grandad rode in 16 consecutive Nationals and dad rode in 13 and I think I could talk about every single ride that they had and how they got on.

“Dad was obviously associated with Nigel Twiston-Davies and when Earth Summit won it was absolute bedlam. That was my first realisation at age 13 or 14 about how huge it was, and it blew my mind. It was a whole jamboree and after seeing all the disappointments dad had been through to see Earth Summit win was amazing. My first memory of Aintree was going there when dad rode Strands Of Gold (1989) and that was very exciting as he was going very well until he fell at Becher’s second time.”

Earth Summit won the Grand National in 1998

Cloth Cap has blossomed out of recognition this season and having jumped his rivals senseless in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November off a mark of 136 when beating Aye Right 10 lengths he followed up in exemplary fashion in the Listed bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso in March when beating Aso seven and a half lengths with likely Grand National contenders Definitly Red and Lake View Lad in his wake.

That race resulted in the handicapper giving Cloth Cap a hike up in the weights from 148 to 162 and he is officially 14lb better off in the world’s most famous race.

Tom said: “This season has been fantastic, and Cloth Cap has been a tremendous thrill to ride. He keeps going from strength to strength and is a very worthy favourite for the race. I am very excited by it all and in any other race he would be much shorter than 4-1.

“It is a very privileged position to be in riding the favourite and I would much rather be riding the favourite than being under the radar on an outsider. He is favourite for a reason and a very good reason at that.”

Owner Trevor Hemmings has already won the Grand National three times with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015) and Scudamore is relishing the thought of possibly providing him with win number four.

He said: “I have spoken to Mr Hemmings a couple of times after Cloth Cap’s wins. He is a tremendous supporter of National Hunt Racing and it would be a great honour if I was able to win it for him for a fourth time.

“The Grand National was the natural race for Cloth Cap to go for after his win in the Ladbrokes Trophy. He ran very well in the Scottish National as a novice and he is related to some good stayers, so Aintree always looked the natural progression for him. Mr Hemmings is no stranger to National glory and the horse was probably bought with Aintree in mind and it is the logical race for him to go for.”

Scudamore obviously has a wealth of experience of the National fences and does not feel the front running tactics of Cloth Cap’s two eye-catching recent successes need necessarily repeating.

Tom said: “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 with.

“I learnt plenty riding Blowing Wind and Vieux Lion Rouge, both real National experts. View Lion Rouge has jumped more National fences that just about any horse in history, so I learnt plenty riding him. Soll was also a great ride as was The Package. I have been in contention crossing the Melling Road the final time on a few occasions but unfortunately every time it was a little bit too far for the horse.

Scudamore and Cloth Cap won The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury in November
Scudamore and Cloth Cap won The Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury in November

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

“He doesn’t have to make the running, but he was up in the van when he ran so well in the Scottish National. I wouldn’t put his performances this year down to the fact he has been able to make the running. He has obviously matured plenty this season and has gone from strength to strength.”

The nine-year-old will be bidding to give trainer Jonjo O’Neill his second victory in the race following Don’t Push It in 2010, famously ridden by AP McCoy, and does Scudamore see any likely dangers to his chance to win a first National at the age of 38.

He said: “You have got to be very respectful of Kimberlite Candy who seems to have been campaigned solely with this race in mind, Ted Walsh’s horse Any Second Now was very impressive in Ireland the other day and there will be plenty of horses with a chance, but I will obviously be concentrating on Cloth Cap.

“If the handicapper could have his say again, we would be 14lb higher so that is a lovely position to be in, but it is such a high-quality race that you have to respect any horse that meets the criteria and gets a run.”

Follow the build-up to the 2021 Grand National on Sky Sports Racing and coverage of the race across Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

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