“Scu” was going out to compete in the closing handicap hurdle and, after 13 years as a jockey, it was his last ride. His retirement had been announced the day before and after his first two mounts of the day had been unsuccessful, his final ride, Sweet Duke, would have to defy top weight on testing ground. The horse won and Scudamore left the scene for a new life as a pundit, as well as being, first and foremost, assistant trainer to business partner Nigel Twiston-Davies. He had left riding as the most successful jockey in jumping history with 1678 winners as well as a record eight titles.

Sixteen years on, Scudamore is loving his new surroundings in Scotland, sharing his life and career with this country’s most successful jumping trainer, Lucinda Russell, at Arlary House Stables near Milnathort. There are more than 60 horses in training, with Russell sitting comfortably in the top 20 in the trainers’ championship. Scudamore told me last week that he had never been happier, but there’s still a feeling in his heart that he gave up riding too early, especially when he watches the exploits of AP McCoy. However, over and above the delights of Perth and Kinross, he takes great satisfaction from the exploits of his sons, jockey Tom and trainer Michael.

“Tom’s probably better now than I was at his age, but he’s had to work at it. It has taken time, but he’s got it now. I speak to him all the time and I ring Michael every morning and maybe help him with placings and things. If I’d been down there, people might have said it was down to me, but it’s all him now.”

Despite his success in the saddle, Scudamore only rode 12 winners in his recently-adopted homeland, with his two Scottish National victories coming on Little Polveir and Captain Dibble. His 1992 success on the latter came at the expense of runner-up Dalkey Sound, owned by St Johnstone chairman Geoff Brown.

Brown now has Silver By Nature (among others) with the Russell/Scud-amore team and after winning at Carlisle last week, the grey will be targeted at Ayr in April, but not before a tilt at the Welsh National next month. Cheltenham and Aintree wins for Culcabock last season (running at Cheltenham today) have raised the yard’s profile but a National victory would be a major step up.

Scudamore’s face now beams out from the packaging on yard sponsors
Isle Of Skye Whisky products and while that relates to a competition built around a Cheltenham meeting in Jan-uary, it’s the main meeting in March (where Mirage D’Or was second in the Coral Cup last year) which Scudamore and Russell feel they must target.

One possible for 2010 is Etxalar (one of our 12 to follow) which could head for Ascot next weekend before a trial at Cheltenham in January. Had a Nicholls or King horse won its chase debut like he did at Haydock last month, it would be high up the RSA Chase ante-post betting but, as yet, Etxalar is so far under the radar he doesn’t merit a quote.

Culcabock should have each-way prospects in a truly run Greatwood Hurdle today but on a day when Master Minded reappears at Cheltenham and both Sizing Europe and Hurricane Fly hog the headlines at Punchestown, I’m going with Reve de Sivola as the day’s best bet in Cheltenham’s 3.30.


DESPITE the racing world pulling together to punt a more than worthy AP McCoy as BBC Sports Personality, a place on the list of 10 nominations to be announced two weeks tomorrow is, realistically, the best which Coral’s 100/1 shot can really hope for.

That’s not the case with new WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, now a top-priced 13/2 third favourite (as low as 4/1 in places) after being recommended here, each way, at 40/1 just last month. With Jenson Button odds on, I’m still not counting my winnings. But it’s still a nice position to be in.