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Famed jumps jockey Michael Scudamore dies at 81

Michael Scudamore salutes the camera after winning the 1959 Grand National on Oxo.

Michael Scudamore salutes the camera after winning the 1959 Grand National on Oxo. © British Pathe

Grand National winning jockey Michael Scudamore has died at the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer. He died just days after his wife, Mary.

Michael Scudamore was the patriarch of a British jumps racing dynasty, the father of eight-time champion jockey and now trainer Peter, and grandfather of top jockey Tom and trainer Michael.

Scudamore won the 1959 Grand National on Oxo, and also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1957 riding Linwell.

His father, Geoffrey, won many point-to-point races in the 1920s and 1930s, and after WWII became a trainer. Michael first competed in a point-to-point at age 14, and won 496 races. He set a record for most consecutive Nationa rides – 16 – that stood until 2012.

“I never hurt myself or a horse,” he told The Guardian newspaper earlier this year. “I’m rather proud of that and that’s when the fences were really big.

“It was a great thrill. You would look forward to it like a kid looking forward to Christmas. You felt you’d achieved something every time you jumped round.”

Michael Scudamore and Oxo winning the 1959 Grand National.

Michael Scudamore and Oxo winning the 1959 Grand National. © British Pathe

A regular rider for the Queen Mother, it was in her famous blue and buff colours that he won his final race on Gay Record at Wye before a heavy fall at Wolverhampton ended his riding career in 1966, when he lost nearly all of the sight in one eye.

His son Peter told The Daily Mail:  “It is an emotional time but one borne out of immense pride at what my father achieved.

“He should really have died 10 days ago but his heart was so strong.

“He was a hero to us,” he said. “They were tough men in those days. He rode in a 40-runner novice chase round Hereford and said when he had a fall his helmet hit the floor before he did, as there were no straps in those days.

“They were just a different generation of toughness and, without him and the other people of his era, National Hunt racing wouldn’t be held in the regard that it is today and I’d never want to forget the legacy they left us.

“He was the toughest man I’ve ever met.”

 

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