We are delighted to bring you the first BIG Interview of 2021 with National Hunt stalwart, Tom Scudamore.
Tom has been a Jockey we have admired for many years now & we are pleased to finally secure this interview with him…..
Tom tells us about his early days, finding his feet in the sport, his first win & we also talk about some of the best horses he has had the pleasure of riding to victory….
THE EARLY YEARS…….
What is your earliest racing memory?
Obviously with Dad riding. My first memory is of him winning the champion hurdle on Celtic Shot. I wasn’t there but I remember being sat in the car listening to the commentary getting picked up at school.
Growing up in and around horses, at what age do you remember sitting or trying to ride a horse/pony for the first time & Was it like a duck to water?
I can’t remember the first time I sat on a pony. I’ve been riding as long as I remember but it wasn’t like a duck to water. It wasn’t until I was about 11, that I really started to improve and get competitive.
You studied at Cheltenham College, so did you have another Profession in mind prior to becoming a Jockey?
Not really. I was always going to be involved in horses, just what capacity it was going to be in. Fortunately I had a good run as an amateur and it went from there.
I understand you started riding as an Amateur while at College & your first race win was on Nordic Breeze at Warwick on the flat in July 1998, What do you remember about that race & why the flat?
I just remember being very excited. I can’t remember how long before I knew I was riding in the race or the build up to it. It was just to get to like it & this would be the start, confidence was never an issue!
In the race itself, I actually finished second but the rider of the winner wasn’t eligible (turned out he’d been a professional in America and ridden hundreds of winners, he was an imposter!) so I was eventually awarded the race.
FOLLOWING IN FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS…..
Were you always destined to follow in your Dad & Grandads footsteps and become a NH Jockey?
I always wanted to be. It wasn’t destiny, I like to think it’s down to bloody hard work!
Did you seek advice from Dad or Grandad & what were the best pearls of wisdom they gave you?
They both gave me great advice. Grandad was always quiet and kind, Dad was a bit more stick than carrot! I still speak to dad everyday, obviously, mostly about racing but we do have other interests!
When you turned Professional in 2001, did you feel any pressure coming from a family of NH stalwarts?
None at all. I just had pressure on myself.
You must have been buzzing when you landed your first NH winner in the October of 2001 & Do you remember how many rides as a Pro you had before the first winner?
I think it was my second ride! I remember being hungry as I carried 9 stone 12Lb I think!
You have ridden for Martin Pipe, David Pipe & Michael to name a few trainers, how did the arrangement with the Pipes come about?
Through Dad. I rode out there during my school holidays and when I left school I went to work there and have never left!
Is there more pressure riding for Michael?
Nope. There’s responsibilities for whoever you ride for and you just want to do your best. WHAT A CLICHE!!!
Having ridden in over 10,500 NH races, what was the worst injury you have had & how long were you on the sidelines for?
I’ve had a few! The longest I was out for was 4 & 1/2 months with a reconstructed shoulder.
THE BIG WINS & GREAT HORSES……
Lough Derg & yourself formed a fantastic Partnership, winning 5 Graded races, which one gave you the most pleasure?
The Long Walk probably as it was my first grade 1 win.
They say that horses like Lough Derg are once in a lifetime horses but along comes Grand Crus, it must have been brilliant to get the chance to ride these great horses in the big races, do you get nervous & are you superstitious?
I tend to get more agitated before the big races I suppose. I also tend to go into my shell and I might be a bit more snappy to be around. But I don’t have any superstitions
And then along comes Thistlecrack….
That must have been some ride, when winning the 9 races in a row, which is almost (Alitior aside) unheard of in NH racing, is Thistlecrack the best horse you have ridden?
The King Geroge VI win must have been some buzz, with him jumping those fences, without seemingly a care in the world… Did you have a race plan in place prior to that day or did you just see how the race went?
You always have a plan, but at the same time you have to be flexible. On this occasion he was so good and better on the day. The race went exactly how I planned and aimed to do.
THE WEIGHING ROOM & THE FUTURE…..
How has the weighing room & Racing changed since you turned professional?
It’s odd because we are all competing against each other and all battling over the same rides, there are conflicts at times and not everyone can get on! However, getting a kick in the face is a really sobering thing and because of that we have a lot of camaraderie and respect for one another.
We all rely on each other as there are many an occasion when you need a lift or picking up from A&E!
The weighing room as a place, in my experience, has always been a warm environment and that is nearly entirely down to the valets, as they act as cleaners, helpers and psychologists!
Racing has changed a lot. I suppose the biggest change is always the advancements in safety and that hopefully is always improving.
Who are your pals in the weighing room?
Tom O’Brien, Robbie Dunne and Sam T-D would be the ones I speak to the most. I sat next to Noel Fehily for 15yrs and Dicky for about the last 10, so those two as well.
Have you thought about the future after race riding & is becoming a trainer something that has crossed your mind?
You always think about the future, in the back of your mind & you have got to be realistic, knowing it’s not going to last forever.
I’m not going to train but I would like to stay involved in racing. Maybe get involved in flat racing and see how the other half live!
How do you relax away from racing & what did you do during the first lockdown?
I mainly relax away from racing by playing my guitar! I’m lucky that I live in a beautiful area just on the edge of Exmoor, and when allowed, great friends and family.
During the first lockdown I rode out for Richard Hannon, it was great and I loved it. A fantastic set up and it’s success speaks for itself. It gave me a taste of what I’d like to do when the time eventually comes for me to do something else.
And finally, can you give our readers a horse to keep an eye out for during the NH season?
Adagio and Make Me A Believer are far to obvious so I’m going to give you Astigar.
We would like to thank Tom for taking the time to talk to us & we wish him all the best for the rest of the season & for the future ahead….
Interview by Rich Williams
Pictures – Family, Tom & Thistlecrack (File).
Tom (Mugshot) – David Pipe Website.
Tom & David Pipe – Racing Post (Via Search engine)
Published – January 2021