Grand National 2017 Fact Files
One For Arthur
Former champion jockey Peter Scudamore never managed to emulate his father by winning the Randox Health Grand National as a jockey - but he will take just as much pride out of a victory for One For Arthur this year.
Scudamore is assistant trainer to his partner, Kinross-based Lucinda Russell, and his input is regarded as invaluable by the licence holder, who specifically points to his nurturing of jockey Derek Fox as a case in point.
One For Arthur shot towards the head of the betting after winning Warwick's Classic Chase, having earlier gone close over the National fences in the Becher Chase.
He is owned by The Golf Widows, namely Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung.
"Debs and Belinda actually went to school together and then met up again later in life," said Russell.
"As their husbands both play a lot of golf they wanted something they could enjoy together, too, and thought this was a good way.
"They've both had horses for years on and off, but by getting one together they've found it very enjoyable. They are great owners and it helps that they are both very understanding.
"Belinda is a steward and knows horses inside out, while Debs is from a farming background so a lot of the nitty gritty doesn't need explaining to them."
One For Arthur's career has always promised plenty, but it has only been this season he has really delivered.
"He was a good hurdler as a novice and won three on the bounce, but then we took him down to Aintree and that was all a bit much," said Russell.
"We couldn't wait to send him over fences but we asked him plenty of questions and he probably wasn't mature enough for Cheltenham when we took him there in the November.
"That seemed to knock him back a bit, you often get horses who have a good season and then the following one is a bit of a letdown.
"In his younger days I remember saying to them all if they'd rather have a Gold Cup horse or a National one and it's funny now but they all said National, so it's always been at the back of our minds."
It is becoming increasingly rare for trainers north of Lambourn to be involved in the major races these days, although Sue Smith proved in 2013 the Grand National can still be won by the 'little man'.
"The racing is less competitive up here but that means as younger horses they don't have it as hard too early," explained Russell.
"I think that then helps them in later life when they can mature at their own pace. We can take our time with horses and don't rush them, whereas down south they might win a novice and go straight into a graded race.
"It definitely helps them go on longer and that might be why the north tends to do a bit better in staying chases."
Michael Scudamore famously won the National on Oxo in 1959 and this year sees his grandson and Peter's son, Tom, ride favourite Vieux Lion Rouge.
"Scu plays a big part in the yard, but the one thing above all else he has brought is professionalism," said Russell.
"He's worked for all the great trainers and cherry picked the best bits, he's a real perfectionist.
"Everyone knows his record in the National isn't great, but he's left no stone unturned in Arthur's prep.
"He's been around once in the Becher without schooling over a special fence, but we do have a green schooling one which is our so-called Aintree fence.
"It's been a bit weird watching the horses he's been running against winning big races, but I'm sure we've done the right thing.
"We said straight away we'd save him as he's not a horse who stands too much racing. His form has really stacked up well.
" I hope he's got the class, he's gone up a lot in the weights but he's still got 10st 6lb so that's a fine weight.
"There's a great buzz about the place, all our horses are very important to us but we have every day mapped out for him, he means a lot to the yard."
One For Arthur (IRE) 8-10-10
Breeding: 8 b g Milan – Nonnetia (Trempolino)
Breeder: J P Dwan
Born: February 24, 2009
Owner: Two Golf Widows
Trainer: Lucinda Russell
Jockey: Derek Fox
*Bidding to become only the second Scottish-trained winner of the Randox Health Grand National after Rubstic (1979).
*Impressive winner last time out of the G3 Classic Chase over three miles and five furlongs at Warwick on January 14, 2017, scoring by six lengths from Goodtoknow.
*Shaped with promise over the Grand National fences when a staying-on fifth, beaten only three lengths, behind Vieux Lion Rouge in Betfred Becher Handicap Chase in December, 2016.
*Began this season with six-length success in a three and a quarter mile handicap chase at Kelso in October, 2016.
*Jockey Derek Fox is hoping to get back from injury in time to ride One For Arthur.
*Winning Irish point-to-pointer who made £60,000 at a sale at Cheltenham Racecourse in December, 2013.
*Has never fallen or unseated his rider. Failed to complete one race when pulled up.
Race record: Starts: 18; Wins: 6; 2nd: 3; 3rd: 5; Win & Place Prize Money: £77,638
Two Golf Widows
The Two Golf Widows are Belinda (Bel) McClung (husband Fraser) and Deborah (Debs) Thomson (partner Colin Dempster). McClung hails from Ancrum near Jedburgh, while Gullane-based Thomson is originally from near Kelso. The pair went to school together and then met up again later in life. They got into racehorses ownership together as they wanted an activity they could enjoy when their husband/partner played golf. As the Two Golf Widows, they have won six races in the last three years, all provided by One For Arthur, though they also own Templenaboe who is just starting out on his racing career. Thomson also has other horses with Russell, including four-time winner Big River, who runs in the name of Two Blacks Labs, named after her Labradors, Bolly and Krug, Alizee De Janeiro who has been successful three times, and five-time scorer Kris Cross, her first horse. Memorably, One For Arthur, Big River and Alizee De Janeiro all won on the same afternoon at Kelso, Saturday, October 24, 2015. McClung, who also used to have horses as Belinda Wares including No Deal, has been a steward at Ayr, Kelso and Musselburgh Racecourses. Thomson said: “I have been a lucky owner, with quite a few wins. My partner Colin and I have had great fun with Lucinda and Scu. One For Arthur is the best horse I have been involved with and we are keeping our fingers crossed that he gets to Aintree for the Randox Health Grand National. It is a dream to have a horse run in the Grand National. We have got the dream and we will just have to see what happens on the day.”
No previous Randox Health Grand National runners
Lucinda Russell (Kinross, Tayside)
Born: June 24, 1966 Background: Lucinda Russell gained a degree in psychology at St Andrews University, having enrolled on the course in order “to get me away from horses.” She had enjoyed a successful career as an eventer and at bringing on horses to Badminton standards and selling them on. She did well as a point-to-point trainer and won on one of her three rides in that sphere, but she recalls that it was a two-horse race. She trained a hunter chase winner with Gunmetal Boy at Kelso on April 5, 1993. After a brief career in marketing, she took out a full trainer’s licence in August, 1995, and the following month she saddled her first winner with her first runner, Fiveleigh Builds at Perth in September, 1995. Her father Peter is chairman of Ian Macleod Distillers which produces Isle of Skye Scotch Whisky and Glengoyne Single Malt Whisky. Russell was formerly married to leading three-day eventer Magnus Nicholson and she is assisted by her current partner, legendary Jump jockey Peter Scudamore, the eight-time champion jockey who came closest to winning the Grand National when third on Corbiere in 1985 from 12 rides in the race. Her best season came in 2013/2014 with 66 successes and she is on the 39-winner mark (up to March 30) this season. Big-race wins: Classic Chase (2017 One For Arthur), Grand National Trial (2015 Lie Forrit, 2010 & 2011 Silver By Nature), Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (2012 Brindisi Breeze), Premier Kelso Hurdle (2012 Tap Night, 2011 Bold Sir Brian).
Randox Health National Record: 1996 Greenhill Raffles (14th), 2005 Strong Resolve (17th), 2011 Silver By Nature (12th)
Born: May 14, 1992 Background: Sligo-born Derek Fox began his career in Ireland, riding primarily for Mark McNiff and Noel Kelly, who provided Fox with an early career highlight when his Charlie’s Vic was partnered by the jockey to success in the G3 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Chase at Limerick in 2013. Fox’s success on Charlie’s Vic caught the eye of trainer Lucinda Russell and he subsequently made the move to Scotland, riding his first winner for Russell aboard The Friary at Hexham on November 8, 2013. He was appointed Russell’s stable jockey in April, 2016. Fox picked up a 20-month ban for drink-driving in 2015 after being found nearly three times over the legal limit. He broke his left wrist and his right collarbone in fall at Carlisle on March 9. He has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation at the Injured Jockeys Fund Jack Berry House in Malton, North Yorkshire, and is hoping to be fit in time to ride One For Arthur in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National. Big-Race Wins:Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Chase (2013 Charlie’s Vic), Classic Chase (2017 One For Arthur)
No previous Randox Health Grand National rides