2017 winner One For Arthur’s participation in doubt
While two-time defending champion Tiger Roll returned in most pleasing fashion, another former National winner hopeful of success in 2020 had a more sobering experience at Haydock.
When winning the 2017 Grand National, the then eight-year-old One For Arthur looked a horse who could very well go on to be a big player in future Nationals as he powered clear to beat Cause Of Causes by four-and-a-half lengths to become just the second Scottish trained winner in National history.
Unfortunately, however, he was injured the following autumn causing the entire 17/18 season to be a write-off. He unseated his rider in his first two outings last season before a return to form of sorts when he finished sixth in the National. Considering the problems he’d had and that he hadn’t actually finished a race in two years it was a most pleasing effort.
This season things had been going a little more straightforwardly as he finished fourth at Kelso and fifth in the Becher back at Aintree over the National fences. At Haydock, though, things didn’t go to plan with Lucinda Russell’s stable star never travelling before being pulled up five out. A routine veterinary inspection found the horse to have a fibrillating heart; a serious although not always career-ending problem.
It does, however, make National participation doubtful. A relieved Russell said on Sunday: “He’s fine and his heart is back to its normal rhythm, which is great. We’re still going to get the vets to check him, but I’m just so relieved.
“I hated the way he was running and I was so worried about him, thinking maybe he was just fed up or something. It was so unlike him, so it’s a great relief to find a reason for it.
“Sprinter Sacre had the same thing, and we’ve had it here too with Big River [Kelso winner last month] and others. Horses get over it, and it’s not a long-term issue like doing a tendon or something like that.
“The girls are very aware of the responsibilities that owners of Grand National winners have and we need to make a responsible decision.”
At this stage we should all be greatly relieved that the old warrior is fine and happy in himself. He is obviously a doubtful runner at Aintree although there has been no talk of retirement for the 11-year-old, who has only had 25 races in his career.
Whatever happens next his 2017 triumph means he will forever be a National legend.
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