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.