Monday, 21 January 2013




RP Rodney Masters  (Press Zone) (21.01.13) visits the Welsh National winning trainer, who hopes to build on MONBEG DUDE’S success in the coming months. From
 rugby field to winner’s enclosure and ready to kick on ....
“SO HOW come Michael Scudamore (Equus Zone) was eligible to play international rugby for Wales? Perhaps the selectors were gifted with the foresight to justify it in the belief that their under-19s open-side flanker would one day train the winner of the Coral Welsh National.
“Modestly, Scudamore, 28, reckoned at the time they had been so desperate to find players that any tenuous link to Wales sufficed, but the truth is that MONBEG DUDE’S trainer has royal Welsh blood pumping through his veins.
“His ancestry can be traced to Owen Glendower, the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales.
“Glendower (1349-1416) married Alice Scudamore, who gave birth to six sons in rapid succession. There is no record as to how many of them rode winners.
“Ultimately, Glendower was to be outlawed by the English, but he had generated such loyalty from within Wales that he was never betrayed, despite a substantial bounty. His resting place is unknown, but as we gathered at Scudamore’s ancient farmhouse at Eccleswall Court near Ross-on-Wye, there was an eerie feeling that the bones of old man Glendower were not far from us. Scadamore’s property would be a paradise for Channel 4’s Time Team. The grounds include remnants of a castle, including a moat, a fort, a burial mound dating a 700-800AD and a chapel last mentioned in a deed dated 1725.
“Back to the future, and there has been a positive reaction to MONBEG DUDE’s achievement with phone calls from prospective owners seeking to add to the trainer’s 20-horse team. At one time that had numbered close to 30. “A few were taken elsewhere for one reason or another. While that tends to knock your confidence, that’s life I suppose. But it made me even more determined. The next few months will be important as we must attempt to build on the Welsh National.
“MONBEG DUDE has been given a speculative entry in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (15.03.2013) and if that option is to come under more serious consideration he must first win Haydock’s Grand National Trial over 3m4f on February 16.
“For Scudamore the journey from rugby field to weighing room involved considerable sacrifice and no little determination, although he now questions the wisdom of it.
Rugby players tend not to ride too many winners but, resolved to do so, he tortuously shrunk his body from 14st to 10st inside a year.
“I was silly and should have been more sensible the way I went about getting my weight off,” he says “It left me pathetically weak and of no help to any horse I rode. I had a few winners but they were steering jobs. Then one summer at Newton Abbot, I rode at
9st 13lb but didn’t have the energy to push the horse or give it any assistance whatsoever. Dad (Peter) gave me a rollicking when I dismounted.
“On the way home up the M5 he stopped off at McDonald’s and bought me a giant Big Mac meal. Half an hour later we stopped again, this time at KFC. He got me a bucket of chicken pieces. I think he was trying to tell me my riding days were done.
“Scudamore had been more successful on the rugby field, playing professionally for Ebbow Vale for two seasons – “I wasn’t sure at first how they’d accept this ex-public schoolboy down in the Valleys, but they made me so welcome. I had a smashing time, which I’ll remember fondly forever.”
 “However, Scudamore was too small and “not fast enough” to progress in that career; too little for rugby, too large for riding. He is adamant that neither can he be regarded
as a serious setback because he always intended to train. During his childhood games in the garden brother Tom, 18 months his senior, would play the role of jockey, and Michael the trainer. “I suppose, in the perfect world I’d have played rugby for 15 years, winning lots of caps for Wales, and then become a trainer.”
“The two brothers are close and converse every day. One of the abiding memories of Welsh National day was of Tom, having pulled up his mount, skipping from the weighing room and down the flights of steps to the winners enclosure repeating the words “I’m so proud of him. I’m so proud of him.” There was a hug.
“The rugby connection, of course, led to the formation of the MONBEG DUDE syndicate – Mike Tindall, James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson – following his
£12,000 purchase at a Cheltenham racecourse auction three years ago. On the night of the Chepstow triumph they celebrated in a Cheltenham restaurant while watching a loop replay of the race.
“They’re all so enthusiastic, yet very different in their approach to racing,”says Scudamore. “Mike Tindall is laid back and relaxed about it. James studies the form and has followed racing for years – but that’s how we struck up a friendship – while Nicky came into it blind and wears his heart on his sleeve about everything; when we first got MONBEG his dream was to win the National, go to Australia and hen come back via Dubai.”
“Daily calls are exchanged between Scudamore and his father. His earliest racing memory?  Peter arriving back from the races one evening. “I asked  him how he’d done, and he replied badly because he’d ridden two seconds. From that moment I thought finishing second in anything must be rubbish.
“Dad has always been there to help and give advice. He’s always wanting to learn and improve. I suspect he picked that up from Martin Pipe. He rang the other day to ask if I’d read the newspaper article about cyclists who try to increase red blood cells and reduce fat. He always tell me to make sure that I’m giving the horses sufficient work. If I’m a bit down after a horse has been taken away or broken down, he’ll tell me that he and Lucinda (Russell, partner) had  two break do9wn and three taken away and that you just have to get on with it.
“Dad hadn’t been keen on us aiming for the Welsh National. Afterwards he rang and told me to gey his jumping sorted because we’ve got a nice horse don’t make mistakes like that and win big races. He didn’t sound overly excited, but I noticed that he soon put something on Twitter that illustrated how pleased he was.”
“In the immediate period before the license was transferred to Scudamore, the yard had horses from Fergus Wilson, the former buy-to-let businessman who insisted they were regularly campaigned in the top races in which they were often 200-1 or more.
“Looking back, that sent the wrong message about what we wanted to achieve, but we’d only just moved here and this was a man who wanted to send us five horses and who paid his bills on time. By the time his business hit trouble we’d had our falling out.”
“Scudamore’s partner, point-to-point rider Tessa Champion, a physiotherapist by trade and on whom he clearly dotes, is on crutches having fractured her pelvis, although unaware of the extent of the injury she had, McCoy-like, ridden in the next race. Despite her immobility, she has baked us a plateful of iced walnut cupcakes, although one is a little cautious in accepting as the tray is thrust forward,  having noted a sign hanging over the Aga reading “I kiss better than I cook”.
“But to avoid any confusion, the trainer’s mother Maz, who has a team of half a dozen point-to-pointers in an adjacent yard, interrupts to admit the warning applies to her, not Tessa. “I’m such a bad cook, that’s why I married a jockey.” She says.
“Just before our visit the trainer’s much-adored grandfather, Michael snr, had called in. He won the 1957 Welsh National on CREEOLA. Still bursting with pride, he told his grandson: “We’ve something else in common now kid, not just our name.”


Equus zone:
But can MONBEG DUDE get his erratic jumping sorted out in time for his bold entry
 schedule in practice? And in doing so,  boost his own confidence not only in himself  but in
 all those behind him as well, if he is to be asked to line up for these races as planned ......
We will have to wait and see, an intersting one to observe.. A fascinating true story if ever there was one,




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