With both the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National meeting over, the National Hunt season is now almost over. It has been an excellent year
With both the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National meeting over, the National Hunt season is now almost over. It has been an excellent year for racing and the intense action at Aintree didn’t disappoint as ONE FOR ARTHUR gave jockey Derek Fox a perfect trip around to claim success in the biggest race in the business.
The Gold Cup has matured into a prestigious event but the Grand National is still the one that every jockey, trainer and owner wants to win. With 30 fences and four, gruelling miles over the Aintree track, this truly is the ultimate test of stamina, jumping and staying ability – and One For Arthur was better than his 39 rivals on the day.
Heading into the final circuit, the Lucinda Russell-trained star was still in the middle of the pack but Fox wasn’t worrying just yet. One For Arthur, notoriously a horse preferring softer ground, slowly but surely started to make his way through the field and he found himself within touching distance of the leaders with just three to jump.
Approaching the last, the eight-year-old was tanking it. CAUSE OF CAUSES, trained by Ireland’s Gordon Elliott, was still in the running but his brilliant first in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham last month might have hindered his chances in the final two furlongs. Simply put, One For Arthur finished stronger than anybody and plenty of Scottish punters were left ecstatic at the result.
If you look back through history, eight-year-old horses rarely emerge victorious in this race – and that is testament to his training and talent. When One For Arthur romped home to win the Betfred Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick in January, everybody knew that he would have a chance of victory on the big stage but not many believed that he could do it in the spring conditions.
Even his owners, the Golf Widows, revealed that they had their doubts on the morning of the race. Looking back now, they needn’t have worried. Fox gave him the most patient of rides around Aintree and he struck when it mattered most of all, eventually finishing four and a half lengths clear of the rest. Causes of Causes was a gallant second ahead of the fast-finishing Saint Are but nobody could challenge the Scottish superstar.
And now the question on everybody’s lips is, can he do it again? At the very least, racing fans will be keeping a close eye on his progress and punters can follow One For Arthur, as well as other capable thoroughbreds, via The Winners Enclosure horse tracker software. He probably won’t run until next season now but another shot at the Grand National wouldn’t be a huge surprise considering his young age.
Meanwhile, Fox’s stock will also rise and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the youngster attract plenty of high-profile bookings next year. At 24 years old, he is still maturing and a win in his first ever Grand National run says a lot about his abundance of talent. Just one month before the big race, Fox broke his wrist and collarbone and he was a huge doubt to even ride at Aintree; One For Arthur backers will be thankful for his quick recovery.
It would be foolish to predict back-to-back National victories just yet but One For Arthur certainly has time on his side and a second success could follow at some point in his future career. He certainly looks more suited to a four mile run rather than shortening to three miles for the Gold Cup and it may prove prudent for Russell and co to target him in similar fashion ahead of next year’s race.
At the very least, One For Arthur will go into the history books for bucking a long-standing trend. He was just the second eight-year-old in 15 years to win the famous race and fans will be very excited ahead of what could be a long and success future in the sport – Scottish fans should be very proud of him.
One For Arthur is an absolute picture when he’s at his brilliant best, his jumping is second to none and he has a unique ability to find more in the dying embers of a race. He isn’t a legend just yet but all signs suggest that he could blossom into a superstar in the near future.