Cheltenham Festival memories: Peter Scudamore

charterpartySOME of my earliest Cheltenham Festival memories centred around the glorious failure of one man to ride a winner. Peter Scudamore was my favourite jockey when I was a youngster. He may have lacked the riding style and panache of John Francome but he always looked like he was giving 100% on his horse. I liked that. And still do. Substance over style you may call it! But when it came to the Cheltenham Festival he couldn’t ride a winner to save his life for the first eight years of his career. I can recall “Scu” being chinned up the hill several times, mainly for his guvnor David Nicholson, who also fired years of blanks at the Festival. Broadsword was a classy hurdler who helped to put Scudamore and “The Duke” on the map and he went off a hot favourite for the 1981 Triumph Hurdle. He was three lengths clear with about 100 yards to run but was mugged on the line by Baron Blakeney. Ironically, the latter was trained by Martin Pipe with whom Scudamore would later enjoy years of success.

Broadsword was then second in the 1982 Champion Hurdle behind shock winner For Auction and then fourth in 1983. A “nearly horse” if ever there was one.

The frustration of Scudamore (and Nicholson) continued until 1986 when the duck was finally broken. It came on a horse who was relatively unfancied: Solar Cloud in the Triumph Hurdle. Nicholson had told Scudamore to hold the horse up but instead the jockey had him handy on the inside and the pair jumped their way into the lead three out. They were clear down the hill and into the straight but on that inexorably long run to the last began to send out distress signals. Brunico and Son Of Ivor both rattled up the hill but somehow Solar Cloud clung on. If you watch the final 50 yards you can sense the desperation in Scu’s riding.

Watch Solar Cloud win here

 

You wait eight years for a Cheltenham winner… and then two come at once. Scudamore and Nicholson went on to complete a double later in the day when Charter Party won the Ritz Club Handicap Chase although their feat was somewhat overshadowed by the achievements of Dawn Run on the same afternoon. That’s another story…

Charter Party, of course, would go on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1988 under Richard Dunwoody. By then Scu had parted with Nicholson to ride for Fred Winter and then Martin Pipe. He won the Champion Hurdle for Winter on Celtic Shot in 1988 and in total rode 13 Cheltenham Festival winners including Pearlyman in the 1987 Champion Chase

What is your favourite Cheltenham Festival memory? Please leave a comment below…

 

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