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English, circa 1959
Picture W.29" (74cm) H.23.5" (59.5cm)
Stock No. 8912M
Oxo’s trainer for the Grand National win, Willie Stephenson, worked out of his stables at Royston in Hertfordshire. He has been the only trainer to have saddled both a Grand National and a Derby winner, the latter being Arctic Prince in 1951. The one time successful jockey was reputed to have had the largest string of horses anywhere in England and trained some of the country’s finest horses and jockeys.
The owner’s colours as depicted in the painting of Oxo are also part of this collection in the form of a jockey’s silks and cap. Michael Scudamore still holds the record for the largest number of consecutive mounts in the Grand National, the first being run in 1951. He also took the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1957, riding David Brown’s ‘Linwell’. Riding a total of 496 winners in his lifetime, he was the father of eight-time champion jockey Peter Scudamore MBE, who boasts a total of 1,678 wins over his racing career, and the grandfather of current top rider, Tom Scudamore.
In this fascinating collection of ephemera relating to the ownership and win of Oxo in the Grand National of 1959, we have various photographs, including one with Princess Anne in racing silks standing alongside other female jockeys, as some are about to presented with trophies by Mr and Mrs Jack Bigg along with newspaper cuttings and a selection of letters written by and to Mr Jack Bigg. One of them most interestingly stands apart from the rest being from the formidable owner of Aintree at the time, Mrs Mirabel Topham, congratulating Mr Bigg on Oxo’s win. His pride at his horse’s win is shown clearly in his response and in the various other congratulatory letters he was to receive and to which he courteously replied.
On his return home to Herefordshire, Michael Scudamore was to be lauded as the champion he was and the Farmer’s Club of Hereford fêted him with a celebratory dinner. Attended by the notables of Herefordshire, and for which we have one of the original menu cards tied with ribbons in the colours of Jack Bigg, the menu, fit for a horse racing champion, included such dishes as ‘Stephenson’s Steaming Celery Soup’ and ‘Scudamore Salad’. Along with Jack Bigg, Scudamore is also photographed at the event alongside trainers, Frank Cundell and Willie Stephenson, and jockeys Derek Ancil and Rex Hamey.
Also being presented is a personalised cartoon, drawn by the prolific and esteemed cartoonist, William John Philpin Jones (Jon) MBE. Referring to Oxo’s ‘National’ win and featuring in the News Chronicle of March 23rd, 1959, it is framed and mounted and inscribed by the artist ‘With best wishes to Mr J.E.Bigg’. Jon, had at one time, been the full-time cartoonist for the British Army Newspaper, but eventually moved to the News Chronicle where he was to remain until 1988 after it had been absorbed into the Daily Mail in 1960. For that paper he had drawn a total of approximately 15,000 cartoons relating to either politics or sport.
The racing colours of Mrs Rhona Biggs are also part of this collection, a similar set to those worn by George Duffield in his win on ‘Lafontaine’ in The William Hill November Handicap at Doncaster, in November 1981. An inscribed, mounted and framed photograph of this win accompanies these silks, as does a framed and mounted photograph of the legendary Lester Piggott on Mrs Rhona Bigg’s horse, ‘Chadleigh’, following his win at Nottingham in 1971.
Also framed, mounted and inscribed is a charming photograph of past Grand National winners from 1946 to 1962, standing in front of the old Wembley Stadium with their owners.
To capture the spirit of four decades dedicated to the following of their horses and their passion, Mr and Mrs Jack Bigg collected a significant quantity of race tags from the meets they attended throughout the country and here we present nearly four hundred, to be part of an extraordinary collection that cannot fail to appeal to the connoisseur, collector and enthusiast alike.
MICHAEL SCUDAMORE - Champion Jockey and Head of a Racing Dynasty - July 17, 1932 - July 7, 2014