Peter Scudamore Peter Michael Scudamore MBE, who retired in April, 1993, after a 15-year career as a National Hunt jockey, never won the Grand National or the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but has the distinction of having won the jockeys’ title more often than anyone except Sir Anthony Peter McCoy. Scudamore rode his first winner under National Hunt Rules, Rolyat, trained by Toby Balding, in an amateur riders’ handicap hurdle at Exeter in August, 1978. He soon decided to turn professional, though, and became stable jockey to David Nicholson at Cotswold House in Condicote, near Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire.

 

Indeed, it was in that capacity that Scudamore became Champion Jockey for the first time, in 1981/82, but only after reigning champion John Francome magnanimously refused any more rides after drawing level with the injured Scudamore, thereby sharing the jockeys’ title with him. Francome later admitted that he thought Scudamore was ‘accident-prone and that he would never get the chance to be a champion again’.

 

Francome was wrong, very wrong. In 1986, Scudamore rode a notable double on Solar Cloud in the Triumph Hurdle and Charter Party in the Ritz Club National Hunt Handicap Chase, both trained by Nicholson – the first winners at the Cheltenham Festival for jockey and trainer, after eight years of trying – and won the jockeys’ title outright for the first time with 19 winners.

 

Having subsequently succeeded John Francome as stable jockey for Fred Winter, and Paul Leach as stable jockey to Martin Pipe, Scudamore would win the jockeys’ title for the next six years running and, in 1988/89, become the first National Hunt jockey to ride 200 winners in a season. His seasonal total (221) winners, smashed the record (149), set by Jonjo O’Neill in 1977/78 and, while it was subsequently been surpassed, several times, by Tony McCoy and, latterly, by Richard Johnson, it is worth remembering that it was achieved long before the advent of so-called ‘summer jumping’ in 1995.

 

Scudamore won the Champion Hurdle twice, on Celtic Shot, trained by Winter, in 1998 and Granville Again, trained by Pipe, and his total of 13 winners at the Cheltenham Festival also included Pearlyman, trained by John Edwards, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1987. Elsewhere, he won the Welsh National four times, on Run And Skip, trained by John Spearing, in 1985, Bonanza Boy, trained by Pipe, in 1988 and 1989 and Carvill’s Hill, also trained by Pipe, in 1991 and the Hennessy Gold Cup twice, on Strands Of Gold and Chatham, both trained by Pipe, in 1988 and 1991, respectively.

 

Scudamore ended his riding career on a high note, winning on his final ride, Sweet Duke, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, at Ascot. All told, he rode 1,687 winners on British soil – 792 of them saddled by Martin Pipe – and was Champion Jockey eight times.

Richard Johnson

A graduate from the point-to-point field, Richard Johnson rode his first winner under National Hunt Rules, Rusty Bridge, trained by his grandfather, Ivor, in a hunters’ chase at Hereford on April 30, 1994. In 1995/96, under the tutelage of the late David Nicholson, he succeeded A.P. McCoy as Champion Conditional Jockey, at the age of 18.

 

However, A.P. McCoy was Champion Jockey for 20 years in succession and, for 16 consecutive years, Johnson had to settle for second place behind his contemporary. Of course, Johnson enjoyed plenty of success, gaining just reward for his loyalty to a small band of trainers, including Nicholson, Philip Hobbs, to whom he has been stable jockey since 2000, Henry Daly and Tim Vaughan.

 

In 1999, he rode his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Anzum, trained by Nicholson, in the Stayers’ Hurdle and, a year later, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Looks Like Trouble, trained by his now father-in-law, Noel Chance. In 2002, he won the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Flagship Uberalles, trained by Hobbs and, the following year, won the Champion Hurdle on Rooster Booster, also trained by Hobbs. In so doing, he became one of just three jockeys still riding – the others being Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh – to have won all four ‘championship’ races at the Cheltenham Festival.

 

Nevertheless, Johnson remained largely under the radar and, for a long time, looked destined to become the best jockey never to win the jockeys’ title. That was, of course, before McCoy retired at the end of the 2014/15 season. In 2015/16, Johnson enjoyed his most successful season ever, numerically, with 235 winners – including Native River, trained by Colin Tizzard, in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree – to become Champion Jockey for the first time. In January, 2016, he also reached the landmark of 3,000 winners, on Duke Des Champs in a novices’ hurdle at Ascot.

 

In 2016/17, Johnson enjoyed further high-profile victories on Native River in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh Grand National, before finishing third on the same horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He also won the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle and the Triumph Hurdle on Defi Du Seul, finishing the season with 189 winners to take the jockeys’ for the second year running. In 2017/18, Johnson rode 176 winners, including Native River in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, to become Champion Jockey for the third consecutive year, and continue an unbroken run of 22 seasons in which he had ridden over a hundred winners.

Ron Barry Born and bred in Co. Limerick, ‘Big Ron’ Barry joined Wilfred Crawford at Haddington, East Lothian as a conditional jockey in 1964 and rode his first winner in Britain, Final Approach, in a novice hurdle at Ayr in October that year. Barry enjoyed plenty of early success, winning the Great Yorkshire Chase and the Scottish Grand National on Playlord and the Massey Ferguson Gold Cup on Titus Oates, both trained by Gordon W. Richards, in 1969 and the Whitbread Gold Cup on Titus Oates in 1971.

 

Indeed, it was as stable jockey to Richards at Castle House Stables in Greystoke, Cumbria that Barry made his name. In 1972/73, Barry won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on The Dikler, trained by Fulke Walwyn, beating the luckless Pendil, trained by Fred Winter and ridden by Richard Pitman, by a short head. Elsewhere, he also won the John Whitbread Gold Cup, for a second time, on Charlie Potheen, also trained by Walwyn, and at the end of the season had ridden a then record 125 winners to become Champion Jockey for the first time.

 

The following season, 1973/74, Barry rode 94 winners, including The Dikler in the Whitbread Gold Cup – a third win in four years for the jockey – but, nevertheless, retained the jockeys’ title. He also rode in the 1973 Grand National, in which Crisp failed, by three-quarters of a length, to concede 23lb to Red Rum in probably the most dramatic finishes ever seen at Aintree. Unfortunately, his mount was miles behind the principals when refusing at the fourth last fence. Barry retired in 1983, at the age of 40, having ridden 823 winners under National Hunt Rules.

Jonjo O’Neill John Joseph ‘Jonjo’ O’Neill rode 901 winners in his 16-year career as a National Hunt jockey, yet is probably best remembered as the jockey of Dawn Run, who won the Champion Hurdle in 1983 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986, thus becoming the first horse in history to win both races. Indeed, earlier in his career, O’Neill had gone closer than most to completing another historic double. In 1979, Alverton, whom he’d ridden to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, started favourite for the Grand National and was going well in the lead when falling, fatally, at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. Otherwise, he might well have become the first horse since Golden Miller, in 1934, to win the two premier steeplechases in the country in the same season.

 

Born in Castletownroche, in Co. Cork, in April, 1952, O’Neill moved to Britain to ride for the late Gordon W. Richards at Castle Stables, in Greystoke, Cumbria in 1972 and partnered his first winner on this side of the Irish Sea, Alexandra Parade, at Stratford-upon-Avon in September that year. In 1977/78, O’Neill was Champion Jockey with 149 winners – including five out of five at Uttoxeter on April 19, 1978 – breaking the record, previously held by Ron Barry, for the most winners in a National Hunt season. In 1979/80, O’Neill was Champion Jockey again, with 115 winners, an extraordinary achievement for a jockey based in the most north-western county of England and likened by seven-time Champion Jockey John Francome to ‘winning five Olympic Gold Medals’.

 

Aside from Dawn Run and Alverton, O’Neill is probably best remembered for his association with Sea Pigeon, trained by Peter Easterby, on whom he won a total of 15 races, including the Champion Hurdle in 1980. That year he also won the Cathcart Challenge Cup on King Weasel, as well as the Dipper Novices’ Chase and the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase on Little Owl, also trained by Easterby. In 1982, O’Neill completed a notable treble by winning the Bula Hurdle, the Christmas Hurdle and the Welsh Champion Hurdle – in those days still run at Chepstow – on Ekbalco, trained by another Cumbrian handler, the late Roger Fisher, who was based in Ulverston.