Tom Scudamore’s Grand National: ‘I’d love to go and ride it again’ [H&H VIP]

  • I was looking forward to the race on Saturday more than ever.

    There’s always that feeling of excitement different to anything else before the Grand National.

    I had a fantastic ride around on The Package, who finished 12th. Unfortunately, his stamina ebbed out but the majority of the way round I thought he’d be there or thereabouts.

    We were travelling around the winner all the way — he just didn’t get home on the day. I’d love to go out there and ride the race again.

    I love the race and it upsets me when people knock it, but it’s always going to divide opinion — it was like that even when my grandfather [Michael Scudamore, who won on Oxo in 1959] was riding in it.

    The course has been made a lot fairer to the horses now. Although the fences still take some jumping, the cores are softer and more forgiving.

    The alterations have been great for the race and the fact all runners came home safe and sound for the second year running really is the best result of the meeting.

    Aintree has done a great job with the course. I’m sure there will be more tweaks in the future, but it’s certainly heading in the right direction.

    A worthy winner

    Pineau De Re had good form going into the race and ran really well to finish third over hurdles at  Cheltenham.

    It was a great result for Dr Richard Newland too. He has a good strike rate and the fact that he only started training in 2006 and has won a Grand National is exceptional.

    It was fantastic for Leighton [Aspell]. We were all surprised when he retired, as he was riding well. He missed it and came back after a couple of years and now he’s back on top. He’s a popular guy and we’re all delighted for him.

    If you asked the lads in the weighing room who the unsung hero was, I bet 90% would say Leighton — even before Saturday.

    How the horses faired

    There were some good results in the race — Balthazar King ran a blinder. He’s always one of my favourites to watch and he’s a credit to his connections.

    I thought Long Run would cope with the fences better than he did. He took a chance at Valentines and had a nasty fall. But overall there weren’t too many hard-luck stories.

    You have to feel for Across The Bay’s connections [the horse was taken out by a loose horse when ahead]. That’s the Grand National. It’s happened before and it will happen again, but that won’t mean they feel any less sick about it.

    My brother Michael’s horse, Monbeg Dude, ran really well and ended up finishing 7th. He’ll come back stronger and better from that experience.

    He obviously attracted a lot of media attention in the build-up to the race because of Zara Phillips [whose husband Mike Tindall part-owns the horse]. I tried to wind my brother up about it, but he wasn’t having any of it — a Grand National runner is what he’d been working for.

    Monbeg Dude had gone to Zara a few times for pole work, but a lot of trainers send their horses to eventers. You need to get the balance right, though — you don’t want them jumping like an event horse, but it’s good to use different techniques from other disciplines to help them improve.

    Monbeg Dude’s gone from being an OK jumper to a good jumper. Michael’s done all the hard work, though.

    The start

    There is always so much noise and things going on at the start that it can get hectic. But I was disappointed by the way things have been handled by the British Horseracing Authority.

    The main problem was with Battle Group [who planted at the start]. He’s refused to race before, and it was unfair on the other 39 horses. If your horse refuses to go, or if you’re not ready, then it’s your problem — not everyone else’s.

    There’s an ongoing enquiry, so I can’t say much more, but I don’t think it’s been dealt with well.

    It’s always difficult as we want to work with the authority, but they make it hard to when they take a position like this. It’s left a sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths.