Dude suits a Grand plan for Scudamore and Carberry
It is 55 years since Michael Scudamore, head of the Scudamore racing dynasty, won the Grand National on Oxo and a week on Saturday, his grandson of the same name bids to sup from the same Aintree chalice.
A fledgling trainer, who has already created a big impression, Michael will team up with veteran jockey Paul Carberry in an attempt to return the family name to the Aintree honours board with leading fancy Monbeg Dude.
Since Peter Scudamore's first National ride in 1980, the race has rarely been without a family interest. The best of his dozen rides was when third on Corbiere in 1985, while his son Tom, who is expected to partner The Package this year, has nothing better than a couple of eighth places to show from an equal number of attempts.
It may be that in the duel from Becher's second time between Oxo and Wyndburgh, ridden by the luckless Tim Brookshaw whose stirrup iron had broken over the famous drop, that Scudamore Snr used up the family's quota of National fortune.
Yesterday the trainer recalled early visits with Tom to their grandfather. "All we ever asked him about was the National and winning it," he said. "And we'd try and pick him out in black and white videos of the race. There's been Scudamore involvement nearly every year since. We always dreamed dad would break his hoodoo and, of course, we're not allowed to mention Strands Of Gold (a faller at Becher's when cantering in 1988). He has achieved a lot more than we have, so he can take that sort of stick!
"There's a strong bond between Tom and myself, he's not just my brother, he's my best friend and nothing will ever beat that day in December when he won on 'the Dude' at Cheltenham, but Paul (Carberry) is not a bad substitute."
Despite his surname, Scudamore, with just a handful of horses at his yard in Bromash, represents the small man in this year's National and his horse, owned in parts by himself and rugby players Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson, has already attained 'fairytale' status by winning last season's Welsh National. Much of the credit for his improved jumping since has gone to Mrs Mike Tindall, Zara Phillips, who has the horse over to school every Monday, but Scudamore believes that is just part of the equation.
"I think a lot of things have come together," explained the 30-year-old. "He's older and stronger, he's more experienced – the Welsh National was only his sixth start over fences and he had not finished two of those – but Zara has taught him to respect his fences and work out where his feet are."
Tindall, who smiled wryly when pointing out that Gloucester to whom he is player-coach have a game at London Wasps on the Sunday after the National, cannot quite believe his luck and recalled the Dude's now famous purchase after racing at Cheltenham.
"We were all on a table at the sale, the last lot came in and the auctioneer asked for someone to help him out with the first bid at 10,000gns. I stuck my hand up, but he spotted someone else first before coming to me at £12,000. At that point the place suddenly emptied and I was looking at the auctioneer with a please-don't-leave-me-with-this look, but it was no good. I'll never buy another, I used up all my luck."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)