TRAINER Michael Scudamore says it would be a fairytale for his much-fancied Monbeg Dude to triumph in Saturday’s Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree.
It will be Michael’s first attempt at the showpiece race and he is desperate to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, also called Michael, who rode Oxo to victory in 1959.
The 20-1 shot Monbeg Dude certainly has royalty on his side.
He is part-owned by England rugby union World Cup-winner Mike Tindall, who is married to Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter.
And Michael will be coming up against his brother, Tom, who will be riding The Package, from David Pipe’s yard.
Michael, 30, said: “When Tom and I stayed with granddad we asked him about the National and all the old stories he used to say about it were just fantastic. 1959 was a long time ago and, hopefully, one of us can change that. We always dreamed that dad, Peter, would break his hoodoo but it sadly never quite happened.
“As a race, it’s probably one of the strongest Nationals there has ever been. Monbeg’s a Welsh winner and there are 39 others and 32 fences to get in the way. With form alone, he has a good chance and he seems to handle any ground, so we are hopeful.”
Michael moved back to Herefordshire when he was 19 and trains at Eccleswall Court Stables in Bromsash, near Ross-on-Wye.
“You see things about Hereford United not going as well as it might, and Monbeg is a good thing for people in the region to have a horse to follow for the big day.
“It’s hugely exciting to be involved in the race and you can’t put into words what it means to have a runner in the Grand National."
Monbeg Dude, who won at Cheltenham in 2012 and followed it up in the Welsh National, was bought through Brightwells.
“Nothing will beat the day my brother Tom rode Monbeg Dude at Cheltenham. But somebody of Paul Carberry’s experience, skills and class is not a bad person to have on board at the National.”
Monbeg Dude is owned by Gloucester rugby players Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel; and Nicky Robinson, who now plays at Bristol.
Michael said: “The three are so enthusiastic and we’re on the phone almost every day. It’s a huge boost to have high-profile owners. It’s been a fairytale story all the way through.
“James coached me a few times at Cheltenham College and we have remained friends ever since,” added Michael, who played rugby for Gloucester Academy, Wales Under-19 and Ebbw Vale.
“My dream was always to have a successful rugby career but the training side of horses always interested me a lot more than the riding.”
He added: “For any race you get nervous but, for the National, it will be 10 times that. I haven’t thought about it too much.
"It’s about getting him ready to line-up. It will be a very exciting and nerve-wracking.”
Tindall said: “I thought the dream had come true when we had him at the Gold Cup. To have a runner in the Gold Cup, we thought we had reached the pinnacle. We are in a position now that we never thought we would get to.”