For a family so steeped in British horse-racing history, the Scudamores have been stumped more times than they care to remember in the most famous race of them all: The Grand National.
Since the great Michael Scudamore won the grueling steeplechase aboard Oxo in 1959, victory has eluded distinguished names lower down the family tree.
His son, Peter – an eight-time champion jockey – never finished better than third in 12 attempts at the National.
Peter’s son, Tom, has had 15 tries as a jockey, failed to finish eight times, and had a highest placing of eighth.
The best that Tom’s brother, Michael, has achieved as a trainer was an unexpected third place on Monbeg Dude in 2015.
Predictions can be a thankless task for the world’s most unpredictable race – run over a 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) course featuring 30 mostly fearsome fences – but there might be no better time for the Scudamores to end 58 years of frustration at Aintree than this Saturday.
Tom Scudamore rides Vieux Lion Rouge, a joint favorite at 10-1 with many British bookmakers and a winner over the National fences in a race in December.
Peter Scudamore has been helping his partner, Lucinda Russell, train One For Arthur – the sixth favorite on most bookmakers’ lists at 14-1.
Recent history shows, however, that it might be necessary to look beyond the supposed favorites for a race with a top prize of 1 million pounds ($1.25 million) and watched, according to organizers, by a worldwide TV audience of 1 billion.
The odds of the last five winners are as follows: 33-1 (Neptunes Collonges, 2012), 66-1 (Auroras Encore, 2013), 25-1 (Pineau De Re, 2014), 25-1 (Many Clouds, 2015), 33-1 (Rule The World, 2016).
Indeed, last year’s winner came right out of the blue. Rule The World had never previously won in 13 races over fences, and had previously broken two pelvises to nearly end his career.
Auroras Encore had never previously won a race and was ridden by a jockey, Ryan Mania, competing in the National for the first time.
”There are lots of good jockeys that have never won it,” said Tom Scudamore, who has ridden more than 1,000 winners in his career, ”and there are less successful riders that have won it.”
No female jockey has ever won the race and the drought won’t be ending this year. Katie Walsh was due to be the only woman in the 40-strong field, riding Wonderful Charm, but she broke her arm on Thursday in a fall on the first day of the Aintree Festival and was ruled out of the National.
As usual, the race will be under scrutiny because of the potential for horse fatalities over the giant fences. However, modifications to the course since two horses died in each of the 2011 and ’12 editions have improved the situation and there were no deaths in the last three races.