- On Course
- April 8, 2017
08th April 2017
The Randox Health Grand National
One For Arthur jumped his way into history to become the first Scottish-trained winner of the Grand National since Rubstic in 1979 at a sun-drenched Aintree on Saturday.
Just like the Liverpool temperatures, the Lucinda Russell inmate soared over the spruce and galloped right the way to the line to hold off Cause Of Causes for former-winning trainer Gordon Elliott and land the world’s greatest steeplechase at 4½ lengths at 14/1, with Saint Are making the frame for a third time and favourite Blaklion fourth.
Sligo-born winning jockey Derek Fox, who had only just returned to the saddle after breaking his left wrist and right collarbone in a fall at Carlisle on March 9th, was riding in the race for the first time and enjoyed a dream run, jumping to the front at the last and repelling all comers.
Fox, who was previously banned from driving for 20-month due to drink-driving in 2015, was riding his 17th winner of the season on only his fifth ride since his return, having tried the National fences on Imjoeking in the Topham on Friday.
Russell, whose partner and assistant trainer Peter Scudamore was a multiple champion and record breaking jockey but never won a National, admitted: “Before the Melling Road, I turned to the owners and shouted, ‘We’re going to win the National!’ With a horse like that and a jockey like that, what could be better? It was a bold call but it was right.
“It’s really funny how everything has gone right. The preparation for the horse, everything – when we worked out what training he was going to have, we built in an extra week for something to go wrong, like losing a shoe. He did lose a shoe, but the farrier got up early on Saturday morning to put it back on. Everything’s gone so smoothly, including winning the race! It’s dreamlike!”.
Scudamore, whose father rode 1959 winner Oxo, said: “Someone asked me the other day if I would swap a championship for a National – I’d never do that, the championship meant so much – but this, for us, people battling along… There are times when you think, ‘why do I do this? Why did I be champion jockey and come back and expose myself as a trainer?’ when things aren’t going well.
“It’s a good result for the race – I would say that, wouldn’t I, but sometimes fairy tales happen and this is one.”
A total of 19 horses finished the race, with no serious injuries to any of the horses or jockeys that failed to complete. Among those was ante-post favourite Definitly Red, who was very unlucky to be badly hampered at Becher’s Brook first time around causing Danny Cook to lose his irons, eventually the jockey pulling up his mount before Valentine’s.
The Last Samurai, last year’s runner-up and again well fancied this time, could finish no better than 16th, while Katie Walsh will have to wait another year for a chance to become the first woman to ride the National winner, her mount Wonderful Charm coming home last of those to complete.