No pressure on One For Arthur to defend Grand National crown

Hundreds of people turned up yesterday to greet Grand National hero One for Arthur. Picture: PA.
Hundreds of people turned up yesterday to greet Grand National hero One for Arthur. Picture: PA.
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Lucinda Russell insists Randox Health Grand National winner One For Arthur will be put under no pressure to repeat his feat next year.

Bookmakers have already installed the 14-1 winner as favourite for 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, emulating Rubstic in 1979.

Milnathort trainer Russell 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.”

Jockey Derek Fox 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. The feat is all the more remarkable given Fox, 24, suffered a broken wrist and dislocated collarbone just four weeks ago.

Russell’s partner and assistant Peter Scudamore, pictured left, the former multiple champion jockey, hailed his winning ride, insisting few others could have mounted the remarkable recovery Fox made in order to write his name into the history books. “We’re [jockeys] not known for our brains,” he said. “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. But he would have done everything he could to get back as soon as he could.”

Russell 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 them 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’.

“I don’t think that fear factor ever entered his mind. Falls are part of racing so I don’t think that bothered him.”

While Fox joined owners Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung to toast their triumph in Liverpool, Russell had to cut her celebrations short as she returned to Kinross-shire.

But she woke yesterday morning to find more than 300 locals turning out at her Arlary House Stables to welcome them, with another 300 messages of congratulations on her phone. She added: “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.

“It’s been a great 24 hours. It’s scared me how many people have shown up this morning to celebrate with us. 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.”