Archie Utedzi
3 minute read
10 Apr 2017
12:06 pm

National glory for Arthur

Archie Utedzi

Winning jockey broke wrist and collarbone last month

SCOTLAND THE BRAVE. One For Arthur, ridden by Derek Fox, comes away from his opposition to win the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday. It was only the second time a Scottish-bred horse has won the race.

Under a perfect blue sky on the most glorious of spring afternoons, One For Arthur delivered an impeccable staying and jumping performance to win the Randox Health Grand National, handing victory to a Scottish-trained horse for the first time since Rubstic in 1979 and just the second time ever.

Ridden with supreme confidence by Derek Fox, resplendent in saltire silks, and trained by Scotland’s leading jumps trainer Lucinda Russell at her Kinross base north of Edinburgh, One For Arthur powered clear from Cause Of Causes and National veteran Saint Are from the last to secure victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase at odds of 14-1.

“It’s brilliant for Scotland,” said an ecstatic Russell, just the fourth female trainer to win the race after Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith. “What an amazing day. He’s an amazing horse, he’s improved every time.

I kept thinking that barring accidents he’ll win the National – and he has!

“He’s done us proud and he’s done Scotland proud, and he’s done everyone at the yard proud.”

One For Arthur was deep in the field through the opening circuit, of which the most significant moment was when Definitly Red, sent off second favourite, was pulled up after almost unseating at Becher’s Brook, but the winner began to make stealthy progress in the second circuit, sliding by runners to creep into a challenging position.

At the front of affairs, however, all eyes were fixed on Blaklion, who had been supported by a late surge of money and was sent off the 8-1 favourite. He travelled superbly for Noel Fehily, at 42 the oldest jockey in the race, but ultimately hit the front too soon, having led and gone clear a long way from home.

By the final fences Blaklion was being closely attended by a quartet of runners, of whom the duo travelling most powerfully were Cause Of Causes and One For Arthur. At the second-last Fox’s mount leapt left, bumping Blaklion, after which the long-time leader appeared to lose a crucial bit of zest for the final stages of the gruelling marathon, although he plugged on gamely to finish fourth.

One For Arthur, though, was unfazed and hit the lead approaching the last, pinged the towering fence and quickly went a couple lengths in front of the tenacious Cause Of Causes before galloping strong round the elbow and to the line to unleash certain celebrations in every corner of Scotland bar the betting offices.

Fox, who like last year’s winner David Mullins was having his first ride in the race, almost missed this glorious moment.

On 9 March he broke his collarbone and wrist, giving him little chance of recovering to take the ride, but against all odds he was back in the saddle less than a month later.

“I was very worried I wouldn’t be back in time,” Fox said. “It was a real struggle, a race against time. Some days I felt very low, I thought I probably had no chance. But Lucinda and Scu [Peter Scudamore] had faith in me to come back and the owners never questioned that I would ride him so I have a massive thank-you to the owners and Lucinda and Scu.” – Racing Post