Copper Coin delivered the bravest of victories in Huntingdon’s John Bigg “Oxo” Handicap Chase – a race of “massive significance” to trainer and jockey Michael and Tom Scudamore.
The brothers have long dreamt of joining forces to win the race which bears the name of their grandfather Michael’s 1959 Grand National winner – and despite trailing the field for much of the two-and-a-half-mile contest, Copper Coin had read the romantics’ script as well.
The Scudamores, sons of multiple champion jockey Peter, were capping a memorable weekend too – following their exploits on Saturday at Kelso, where Tom rode Grand National favourite Cloth Cap to a decisive Listed victory and Michael’s Do Your Job was second in a Grade Two novice hurdle.
The success which meant most, though, was reserved for Huntingdon – the culmination of years of hopes and more recently months of planning with the lightly-raced eight-year-old.
“It’s obviously not the biggest race in the world for a lot of people – especially with the week after next round the corner (at the Cheltenham Festival),” said Herefordshire trainer Scudamore, after Copper Coin’s 7-1 victory by a tenacious half-length.
“But obviously, from a family point of view, it’s a race of massive significance to us.
“Tom and I have just been saying it’s a race we’ve wanted to win ever since I’ve had my licence – 10, 15 years or so.”
Copper Coin was cast adrift of the eight-strong field at one stage, and still last as they turned for home – but Scudamore gradually made up ground before challenging at the last and seeing off Risk And Roll close home.
“He’s a wonderful horse anyway – he’s got such character, always causing havoc when he’s out and about being ridden,” Scudamore added.
“He’ll definitely have a big picture on the wall from now, I imagine!
“I’ve never had anything quite right to come for (this race). (But) it’s something we’ve had in our minds for some time with this horse, and it’s amazing it’s all come together really.”
The trainer could hardly be confident mid-race, but he still had faith both horse and jockey were not done with.
“He’s obviously had to be really brave today,” he added.
“The horse has had plenty of problems – he hasn’t had a lot of races in his life, and there have been a lot of gaps between them.
“He was bred by the owners as well. So to get his first win, and do it in a race like this, is just great for everyone.
“Tom is riding exceptionally well, and has done for a number of years.
“I think he’s riding as well as anybody out there at the moment.
“He’s proven it again today.”
He had to challenge from the most unpromising of positions, however.
“It didn’t look likely early, and he was just a little bit sticky,” said Scudamore.
“But Tom just never moved on him, rode him with loads of confidence – and that’s shown at the end.
“With a circuit to go, he was a bit sticky again at the one after the ditch – and he dropped off the back by four and a half lengths.
“You thought then ‘it’s a long way back from here’.
“But Tom never panicked, and every time he did just ask a little bit more, the horse responded.
“Then turning for home, you just thought ‘he could go and run a nice race here and be third, fourth or fifth’. Actually, with the lay-off he’d had, you’d probably take that.
“But when he was bang there after the last, and the guts he had to show up the run-in, all credit to the horse.”
Copper Coin has had just nine career starts, and this was his second over fences.
Scudamore said: “He’s had his issues and injuries and things, and he was just unbelievably brave to really stick his neck out and get his nose in front when it really mattered.
“It’s obviously extra special to team up (here) – and we’re very, very proud to have got it right today.”