Grand national winner coming to Kelso

One For Arthur, ridden by Derek Fox, crosses the line to win the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree Racecourse.
One For Arthur, ridden by Derek Fox, crosses the line to win the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree Racecourse.

Grand National winner One For Arthur is coming to the Borders tomorrow, April 10, following his victory at the Merseyside race on Saturday.

The eight-year-old racehorse will be doing a parade at Kelso Racecourse’s Buccleuch Cup and family day ahead of its first race at 2.10pm.

Grand National winner One For Arthur pictured with trainer Lucinda Russell at her yard near Kinross today.

Grand National winner One For Arthur pictured with trainer Lucinda Russell at her yard near Kinross today.

The 14-1 Aintree winner’s parade will be in the course’s paddock at about 1.30pm and is also set to return later in the year to race.

Course spokesperson Ally Landale said today: “One For Arthur will be doing a parade by very kind permission of Lucinda Russell and the Two Golf Widows, Debs Thomson and Belinda McClung.

“Richard Landale, our managing director, got in touch with Lucinda yesterday to ask the question, and she called the clerk of the course, Anthea Morshead, this morning and offered us this great opportunity.

“We are all very excited.”

Grand National winner One For Arthur's owners Belinda McClung, left, and Debs Thomson with him at Lucinda Russell's yard near Kinross today.

Grand National winner One For Arthur's owners Belinda McClung, left, and Debs Thomson with him at Lucinda Russell's yard near Kinross today.

Belinda, 45, of Ancrum, and Debs, 46, formerly of Kelso but now of Gullane in East Lothian, bought One For Arthur for £60,000 three years ago to give themselves a hobby at weekends while their husband and partner, Fraser McClung and Colin Dempster respectively, were off playing golf, and he has now repaid that investment tenfold, the prize money for winning the world’s most famous steeplechase being £600,000.

One For Arthur is trained by Lucinda at Milnathort in Kinross-shire and was ridden by Irish jockey Derek Fox to finish first in front of a 70,000-strong sellout crowd.

Bookmakers have already made the Irish-bred bay gelding favourite to do an Aintree double in 12 months’ time after he became the first Scottish-trained horse in 38 years to win the world’s greatest steeplechase, following in the footsteps – or hoofprints, rather – of Rubstic, owned by former Scottish rugby international John Douglas, of Edinburgh, and trained by John Leadbetter at Denholm, in 1979.

Lucinda, 50, said: “That’s it now for Arthur this season. He is entered in the Scottish National, but he won’t be racing.

“We’ll take him out to the field for a nice summer break and then he’ll be back at Kelso hopefully in October.

“The bookies have already made him the favourite for next year’s National, but there’s no pressure on him. He dictates the pressure, and he’s been a super horse to train. He really does have some ability.

“Straight after the race I kept thinking ‘this is incredible. I’ve just won the Grand National’, and it doesn’t really sink in. It’s just been my ambition all the time.”

Derek bided his time before launching a late spurt that saw him dart home to win by four and a half lengths from Cause of Causes, a feat all the more remarkable given that the 24-year-old suffered a broken wrist and dislocated collarbone just four weeks ago.

Lucinda’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore, the former multiple champion jockey, praised Derek for bouncing back from that blow to write his name into the history books.

“We jockeys are not known for our brains,” said the 58-year-old.

“People say we’re very brave, but there’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity.

“I felt so awful when Derek fell at Carlisle. He was in a bad way with a lot of pain.

“I’ve done what he did and had to have an operation on my wrist. Luckily, he just bruised the bone, but without the medical care he had, he wouldn’t have made it. It’s a testament to his fitness and health that he got there, but normal people would not have been recovering in the time that he did.

“Would he have pushed himself had it been any other race? Well, it’s the essence of sport. If you’re not there, somebody else is taking your place. It’s not like an office job where someone else fills in for a few weeks and your job is there for you to come back to.

“He would have done everything he could to get back as soon as he could.”

Lucinda was also full of praise for the Sligo rider, adding: “He’s a real tough lad, mentally tough and physically tough.

“Four weeks ago it was looking a bit dodgy. When we went up to Perth Royal Infirmary after his fall, the doctors said they were going to put him in plaster, but immediately he told then he wanted to ride in the National. They were like ‘well, if you want to ride in the National, we can’t put you in plaster’.

“He went down to Jack Berry House, which is run by the Injured Jockeys Fund. It was very tough down there, and they put him through his paces, but that just proves how much he wanted to get back for the Grand National.

“I don’t think that fear factor ever entered his mind. Falls are part of racing, so I don’t think that bothered him. When that becomes a factor, that’s when you stop riding.

“This is definitely the race I always wanted to win and definitely a huge achievement to have done it.

“I’m so proud of everyone in the yard. I’m so proud because we knew we could produce racehorses at this level capable of winning the greatest steeplechase in the world.

“It was an incredible day. Everything has gone very slowly the last week, but our preparation was spot on, and we’re just so pleased Arthur got a clear run.

“The big thing we were looking for was that he had that bit of luck and avoided any fallers. Thankfully, that happened.

“I’m glad to say I didn’t take too much part in the celebrations. The staff had a lot of fun, and they deserved it. They had a big party in the Thistle, which started just after the race and lasted for the next 12 hours at least. I had to drive back up the M6 unfortunately.

“It’s been a great 24 hours.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved here in Milnathort. Scottish racing is starting to thrive and that’s the way it has to be. If we can put this stable on the map for British racing then that would just be super.

“It’s elevated my confidence that I can train to the highest level, and that’s important to me, but it’s not really about me. I’m getting all of this publicity just now but, in truth, it’s not really about me – it’s about everyone behind you.

“They’re the ones that look after all these horses and do all the hard work for all of us.”

Tickets for tomorrow’s races cost £13 or £16. For details, go to www.kelso-races.co.uk