Tom Scudamore Retirement: Looking Back at His Greatest Races

The 17th February 2023 brought one of the most surprising headlines of the current National Hunt season, as Tom Scudamore announced his retirement from the saddle. Tremendously popular in the weighing room, and a stalwart of David Pipe’s Pond House operation, most within the sport assumed the 40-year-old would continue for at least a few more years. However, it seems a concussion at Chepstow, followed by a nasty fall at Leicester, led the rider to get out whilst the going is good.

The likeable Naunton native will be a huge miss to fellow jockeys, trainers, and punters alike, but he does at least get to depart the scene on his own terms and can look back on a career of which any jockey would be proud.

Born To A Life In The Saddle

Many within racing claim to have the sport in their blood, but rarely could that phrase be more apt than in the case of Tom Scudamore. Grandfather Michael was a successful jockey whose finest hour came when winning the 1959 Grand National aboard Oxo. Father Peter then surpassed those achievements – being crowned Champion Jockey on no fewer than eight occasions.

Given that pedigree, it isn’t too surprising that Tom first threw his leg over a horse at just two years of age. Clearly inheriting the family talent and love of the game, Scudamore quickly progressed through the ranks. A first win under rules came in a flat contest aboard Nordic Breeze at Warwick in July of 1998, followed by a debut jumps success when partnering Young Thruster to victory at Newton Abbot in October of the same year.

Scudamore’s burgeoning talent was then rewarded when crowned the 2001 British Champion Amateur Jockey, with the rider using that stepping stone to turn professional in October of 2001.

A Stellar Career

Quietly impressing many over the course of his first few seasons, the landmark moment in Scudamore’s career came in 2007 when bagging the job as David Pipe’s stable jockey – a move which saw him follow in the footsteps of father Peter, who enjoyed a famous association with the Matin Pipe yard. Tom would retain this role as Pipe’s number-one rider right up until hanging up his silks.

When all was said and done, Tom Scudamore had racked up an impressive tally of 1,512 wins in the saddle, consisting of 1,498 in British Jumps races, 12 on the flat, one in Ireland and one in France. That tally places him 10th on the all-time list of National Hunt riders. His standout season in terms of numbers came during the 2014/15 campaign when his 150 wins saw him finish third in the Jockeys Championship.

Biggest Winning Rides

In addition to the number of winners, Scudamore’s body of work contained more than a healthy smattering of quality, including 13 Grade 1 successes, and 10 wins at the Cheltenham Festival. The rider, himself, seems reluctant to pick out standout moments from his 25 years in the saddle, but it seems safe to assume that he will look back on the following five races with particular fondness.

Lough Derg: 2007 Long Walk Hurdle

No matter how much natural talent they possess, almost all riders need a little help from the horse underneath them to really put them on the map. Ruby Walsh only really exploded onto the scene following the success of Papillon in the 2000 Grand National, whilst Tom’s father Peter was thrust into the limelight by the talented Broadsword.

For Tom Scudamore, it was Lough Derg who first propelled the rider onto the big stage. Responsible for eight of the jockey’s career wins, Lough Derg’s crowning moment came in the 2007 Long Walk Hurdle. The talented stayer faced a tough task on paper, with two Cheltenham Festival winners amongst the opposition, including Champion Hurdler, Hardy Eustace. In reality, the race turned out to be much easier. Given an expertly judged ride from the front, Lough Derg made mincemeat of his rivals to power to an impressive nine-length success, and hand Scudamore a first career Grade 1 victory.

Western Warhorse: 2014 Arkle Chase

Tom Scudamore had tasted Cheltenham Festival success prior to 2014, having won the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase on An Accordion in 2008 and the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase aboard Salut Flo in 2012. However, 2014 was to prove a golden year, with a hat-trick of wins for the rider.

Ballynagour’s Brown Advisory triumph and, in particular, the win of Dynaste in the Ryanair came close to making this list, but for us, it was the shock Arkle success of Western Warhorse that was the pick of the bunch. Sent off at 33/1, only one of the 10-runner field was a bigger price than the David Pipe star. Things didn’t look particularly promising as they turned into the straight, as Champagne Fever and Trifolium – in the powerful colours of Rich Ricci and Gigginstown House Stud respectively – kicked for home. Scudamore is, however, never a man to give up, and inspired Western Warhorse to fly home down the outside and get up in the shadow of the post.

Mighty Thunder: 2021 Scottish Grand National

Scudamore never managed to win the Aintree Grand National – coming closest when sixth aboard Vieux Lions Rouge in 2017. However, he did land the Scottish version of the race, and it was a pretty special victory at that, with the horse, Mighty Thunder, being trained by his stepmother Lucinda Russell.

Throughout his career, Scudamore’s strength in the saddle rarely garnered the praise it deserved, and nowhere was that grit and determination more in evidence than in this marathon contest at Ayr. Looking to have a mountain to climb as they turned for home, Scudamore propelled his willing partner to a lung-busting effort up the run-in to make up 10 lengths and more on the leaders. Only Dingo Dollar remained in front of Mighty Thunder as they jumped the last, and under a relentless drive, the tough-as-teak gelding hit the front just in time, for a famous family success.

Thistlecrack: 2016 King George VI Chase

Of the many classy horses with whom Scudamore was associated throughout his career, there is one who stands tall above the rest. For a period between 2015 and 2016, the Colin Tizzard-trained Thistlecrack was the most talked-about horse in jumps racing bar none, sweeping all before him in a sequence of nine consecutive wins, with Scudamore the man in the saddle for each and every one of those successes.

A devastating staying hurdler, Thistlecrack was simply imperious when routing the field in the 2016 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but his most famous win came on Boxing Day at Kempton Park. Having proven so dominant over the smaller obstacles, could the son of Kayf Tara do the same over fences? The answer was an emphatic yes, as he left previous winners Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti trailing in his wake for an eased-down success by three and a quarter lengths. In terms of profile and national attention, this was the biggest win of Scudamore’s career.

Next Sensation: 2015 Grand Annual

This two-mile handicap at the Cheltenham Festival may not be the most prestigious race on this list, but the event enjoys a place close to the hearts of the Scudamores. Tom’s grandfather Michael won this as a jockey on Barberyn in 1961, and again as a trainer with Fortina’s Palace in 1970. Fast forward to the 1989 edition, and it was Peter Scudamore coming home in front aboard Pukka Major.

Keeping up the family tradition was no doubt high on Tom’s wish list heading into the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, and all the more so considering his mount, Next Sensation, was trained by his brother, Michael Scudamore Jr. Fourth in the race in 2014, having gone off much too fast, Scudamore avoided the same fate this time around in saving enough to kick again off the home bend and fend off all comers in the straight to register an impressive four-length victory – the delight on the riders face as they crossed the line showing just how much the win meant.