'One For Arthur's National win is a triumph to treasure'
- Updated: April 9, 2017
One For Arthur. One for Scotland, one for a jockey back from injury and two golf ‘widows’ on the weekend of the Masters.
In the great tradition of the famous race, the 170th edition of the Grand National at Aintree delivered a story with many strands.
The 14-1 winner One For Arthur, thought to be named after the famous Irish brewer Arthur Guinness, held off the challenge of Cause Of Causes to triumph, with Saint Are third and favourite Blaklion fourth.
It was only a second Scottish-trained winner of the National, with Lucinda Russell the fourth woman to saddle the victor.
Jockey Derek Fox was having his first ride in the marathon contest over 30 fences and four-and-a-quarter miles, and just his sixth since breaking his left wrist and right collarbone in a fall last month.
Owners Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson bought the horse and gave their syndicate a cheeky name as their partners were often away playing golf.
The feel-good story was capped with all 40 runners returning safely for the fifth year running.
- Full racecard result
- Where did your horse finish?
- Relive One For Arthur’s victory
- Bookies count cost of National win
‘Doing Scotland proud’ – the trainer
Russell wore a wide grin as she received widespread congratulations and declared: “He’s done us proud and he’s done Scotland proud.”
After a 38-year wait since Rubstic’s triumph, she had helped deliver another victory for her homeland and a third in nine years for female trainers.
“It means everything, of course it does,” said the 50-year-old, who is based at Kinross, Tayside, north of Edinburgh, and follows Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith as National winners.
Russell is assisted by her partner Peter Scudamore, the eight-time champion jockey who missed out on National success as a rider – coming closest to winning from 12 rides when third on Corbiere in 1985.
“I don’t like the word ‘small’ but we are not one of the more fashionable places and, from about Christmas-time, I felt confident things were going well,” he said.
Scudamore advised Fox to steer clear of taking an inside track so he could avoid trouble and the race plan worked to perfection.
‘Destined for victory’ – the jockey
Fox did not sit on a horse for three-and-a-half weeks after being injured in a fall at Carlisle on 9 March.
Following intensive rehabilitation at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House in Malton, North Yorkshire, he returned to action three days before the National.
“Winning is the best feeling I’ve ever had, and probably ever will have. He’s such a brave horse,” said the 24-year-old Irish rider.
“For the first two weeks after I was injured I was very hot and cold. I was very low some days and thought I wouldn’t make it.”
His jubilant mother Jackie, from Sligo, watched from the winner’s enclosure and said he had always been destined for this moment.
“At every parent teacher evening I went to, they were giving out, but I knew he was going to be a jockey,” she said.
She said Derek had dressed as a cowboy riding a pony called Reggie in a St Patrick’s Day parade when he was four years old.
“Aged nine, he went to riding school. The instructor said: ‘You’ll never make it as a showjumper, but I can see you going over the fences at Aintree’,” added his mother.
‘Two golf widows’ – the owners
With their partners spending weekends on the golf course, friends Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson wanted to get their own sporting interest.
“We had a lot of gin and decided to get a horse together. We went to Cheltenham sales and got One For Arthur,” said Belinda.
After forking out £60,000 for the horse in December 2013, the pair registered their ownership as ‘The Two Golf Widows”.
Their silks contain a Scottish flag and the purchase has paid off – with the owners earning about £500,000 in prize money from the £1m contest.
Deborah, close to tears, said: “We always hoped he’d be a National horse in the making.
“Our dream was to get him here but to actually win, well I’m lost for words.
“The syndicate name is slightly tongue-in-cheek as my partner Colin is on the golf course every single weekend. There’s probably two weekends when he’s not.”
This, perhaps not surprisingly, was one of those two weekends.
“They are both here today, of course,” she said. “They weren’t going to miss out.”
Fraser, the husband of Belinda, confirmed: “This is miles better than golfing.”
What’s in a name? – the horse
Two false starts in warm sunshine led to 31 of the 40 jockeys, including Fox, being referred to the British Horseracing Authority for approaching the starting tape before the flag was raised.
Fox went on to give One For Arthur an impeccable ride, sending his mount to the front approaching the last and winning by four-and-a-half lengths.
Russell had been unsure he would appreciate the drying ground, but there was no stopping the Irish-bred gelding, who was following up his win in the Classic Chase at Warwick.
So where does the name One For Arthur come from?
“We’re not totally sure. We think he was named after Arthur Guinness,” said the trainer.
“His name is still on the Guinness cans and people say I’ll have ‘One For Arthur’ or one for the road.”
Victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase was one for the almanac. One brewed in Ireland and toasted in Scotland.