Peter Scudamore: What John Francome did has to be one of the greatest sporting gestures of all time

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Former eight-time Champion Jockey Peter Scudamore vocalises the meaning of Mark Boylan’s ‘A Song For Campbell’ on the latest episode of new podcast Disc Jockeys, produced by creative marketing agency Square in the Air.

The new weekly show sees host Chris Barnett chat to some of the biggest names in racing as they look back on the key moments in their careers through five carefully selected musical tracks, all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Square in the Air will donate £250 per episode to the Injured Jockeys Fund on behalf of each guest and are encouraging listeners to also pledge support. Each show will also be available on Spotify.

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This episode brought back some memories for Peter Scudamore, including what was and still is a tough and saddening moment in his life, losing stable jockey and friend Campbell Gillies. Furthermore, how Mark Boylan’s “extraordinary” ‘A Song For Campbell’ has brought some sort of joy from such a dark point.

“If Cheltenham Festival was a song, it would be Mark Boylan, A Song for Campbell,” said Scudamore. “It was a song written about someone and something that happened in my life that I will never get over – young Campbell Gillies.

“He can’t have been much older than 18 when Mark wrote the song, and it’s such an extraordinary song. Although it is about this boy, this moment in time, it has key connotations to Cheltenham Festival and what the emotion of Cheltenham is. It’s what we admire in people, it’s the honesty and bravery that Campbell also possessed.

“It is such a superbly-written song, I don’t think Mark knew Campbell, but he must have spoken to a lot of people he mentions. It’s an emotional song and it reflects the bravery of the jockeys and horses, I love it.”

Francome stopping riding to share record was a very poignant moment

Having ridden over 1,600 winners, including 13 Cheltenham Festival victories and having won the Champion Jockey title eight times, Scudamore revealed that the most poignant moment in his career was when becoming joint Champion Jockey for the first time when John Francome decided to stop riding to ensure they would finish level for the tally of wins.

“A very poignant moment is my career is when I was joint Champion Jockey in 1981/82 with John Francome. I broke my arm at Southwell which forced me to the sidelines in the closing stages of the season.

“John actually called my father and he expressed how, if he were to draw level with me on the tally of wins, then he was going to stop riding to share this title with me. I was 15 to 20 winners in front of him at the time and he had no reason to do what he did. It has to be considered one of the greatest sporting gestures of all time.

“He’s a great man and, funnily enough, he did say to me in years to come that he thought that was my one chance at Champion Jockey. He didn’t think I’d go on to win as many as I did!”

Injured Jockeys Fund very close to my heart

With the release of each episode of Disc Jockeys, Square in the Air will donate £250 to the Injured Jockeys Fund and it’s a charity that Scudamore and his family are a big part of.

“I’m immensely proud to be a part of the Injured Jockeys Fund as it goes back in my family a long way. My father used to collect donations in a blanket at the cricket for the injured jockeys.

“Lord John Oaksey had a massive influence on the growth of the charity, he’s probably one of the greatest men ever in National Hunt racing. I had the privilege of sitting as a director of the Injured Jockeys fund. It’s a truly magnificent charity – it’s the best sporting charity with the things they do and the aid they give.”

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