Monday 9 July 2018

Grand National Winner 2017: One For Arthur

In 2017, One For Arthur had the distinction of becoming only the second ever Scottish winner, after Rubstic in 1979, of the Grand National at Aintree. Owned by Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung – collectively known as “Two Golf Widows” – and trained in Kinross by Lucinda Russell, the eight-year-old had marked himself out as a possible National type when staying on well to finish fifth of 22, beaten 3 lengths, behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs on the National Course, the previous December. He subsequently won the Classic Chase, over 3 miles 5 furlongs, at Warwick and lined up at Aintree as the 14/1 fifth choice of the punters.

In the National, One For Arthur was a little outpaced in the early stages as the front-running Rogue Angel set strong fractions, but travelled and jumped well for most of the way. So well, in fact, that according to jockey Derek Fox, “He was making two or three lengths at every fence.” His cause was aided by the departure of second favourite Definitly Red, who was badly hampered at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit and never recovered, but when favourite Blaklion took the lead, going strongly, at the fourth last, the race looked all over bar the shouting.

However, One For Arthur made good headway after jumping the third last and, as Blaklion began to tire, was one of half a dozen horses in with a chance at the second last. One For Arthur nosed ahead a few strides from the final fence where, despite jumping left, he gained a definite advantage over second-placed Cause Of Causes as they started up the famously long, 474-yard run-in.

Fortunes often change on the final, agonising stretch between the final fence and the winning post at Aintree, but coming to the Elbow it became clear that, barring accidents, One For Arthur would win. And win he did, staying on strongly to beat Cause Of Causes by 4½ lengths, with Saint Are a further 3¾ lengths back in third. In so doing, he made trainer Lucinda Russell the fourth woman, after Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith, to train a Grand National winner.

Winning jockey Derek Fox, who had only just returned to action after breaking his wrist and collar bone at Carlisle less than a month earlier, said afterwards, “…he’s the gamest horse I’ve ever ridden – he galloped all the way to the line.”

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