One For Arthur travelled strongly to the lead and jumped well
PICTURE: Getty Images
By james burn 3:45PM 14 JAN 2017
Report: Warwick, Saturday
Betfred Classic Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m5f54y, 5yo+
CONDITIONS at Aintree in the spring will be different from the gloom of a damp Warwick in January, but connections of One For Arthur will never forget where their Grand National dream was born as the eight-year-old captured the Midlands track’s signature race.
In winning the £60,000 contest, One For Arthur emerged as a contender for the Randox Health-sponsored marathon with Paddy Power introducing him as a 40-1 shot. William Hill went 33-1 (from 50).
There is plenty of time between now and then and the son of Milan will need help from the handicapper to get in jump racing’s most famous event, but the interim period will also allow the dream to live on.
Trained by Lucinda Russell, One For Arthur was an eyecatcher when fifth in the Becher Chase and survived being hampered by the unseat of Kaki De La Pree to provide jockey Derek Fox with the most important victory of his career in front of a crowd just shy of 3,500, which was “slightly bigger” than 12 months previously.
“He jumps fantastically, but was unfortunate when he was interfered with in the Becher and I thought the same would happen there,” said Russell, who campaigned that fine staying chaser Silver By Nature to such effect.
“But Derek took his time and let him get back into the race.
“If he goes up enough he might be a National horse this year, but he’ll definitely be one next year. I wouldn’t want to run him on good to firm ground, but Aintree won’t let it get like that.
“I’m delighted as the owners are lovely, proper National Hunt people.”
Golf widows score hole in one
The owners Russell was referring to are the Two Golf Widows, aka Debs Thomson and Belinda McClung.
“Our husbands are big golfers and play golf all the time,” explained Thomson. “So we decided to get a horse and although we’ve been involved in others, One For Arthur is the first we’ve had as the Two Golf Widows.
“We’ve got to see what the handicapper does, but it’d be great to get in the National.”
McClung, a steward at Kelso, Musselburgh and Ayr among tracks, added: “Debs and I went to school together and have known each other since about the age of eight.
“The horse has been very consistent and has only been out of the first five once at Aintree when he was a baby.”
McClung, and the rest of the One For Arthur camp, will be hoping he is more grown up for his next trip to Merseyside whenever that may be.
And while Russell trains close to Perth she is very much considered part of jump racing in the north.
Its demise has been well documented, but a National strike would go someway to debunking that theory.
“I think he’s a National horse, yes – he’s a big horse and jumped well round there,” said Peter Scudamore, Russell’s partner, the former eight-time champion jump jockey and son of Aintree hero Michael Scudamore, who won the big one on Oxo in 1959.
Few would know more.