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With Aintree calling, will we see One For Arthur?

Three years ago, One For Arthur made the history books, becoming only the second Scottish-trained horse to win the Grand National. Lucinda Russell’s horse was a mere 14/1 outsider and after trailing at the back, it took an inspired performance from Derek Fox in the saddle to mount a challenge from three out. After jumping the last and staying on strongly, One For Arthur beat Gordon Elliott’s Cause of Causes by four-and-half lengths, while favourite Blaklion finished in fourth.

Prior to his Grand National win, One For Arthur showed some reasonable form. However, since that day, plagued by injuries, he’s yet to win another race. Following victory at Aintree, connections announced his season was over. Russell’s partner Peter Scudamore later revealed it was a tendon injury and he’d be back next year. But after 20 months out, the long-awaited return ended in disappointment as One For Arthur unseated his rider in both of his subsequent comeback races. The first was at the famous fences of Aintree, with Tom Scudamore in the saddle, while the second was at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Chase, this time with usual jockey Fox.

The much-loved bay returned to Aintree for the Grand National in 2019, but could only finish in sixth position – once again, starting from the back of the field. He fared a little better at Kelso last October, before finishing in fifth in the Becher Chase in December. Connections revealed he was in good form heading into this year’s National. But since then, there’s been another setback and bets on the Grand National winner are certainly not in his favour, with the current market suggesting odds of 25/1.

Weights for the National were revealed only last week, and the 11-year-old was handed a generous 10:2 for the Blue Riband race, which pleased his trainer. Ahead of the trial at Haydock, Russell said: "One For Arthur is in good form. After the Becher Chase, we said that we would wait until the National weights came out before we ran him again. He has been allotted 10st2lb for the Grand National, which is a very nice weight and the same mark that he had when he won the race two years ago.”

However, it was another disappointment and a further setback in the National trial at Haydock, when with Fox back in the saddle, One For Arthur was pulled up. As well as losing his left-hind shoe, tests showed that he also had a fibrillating heart. After being given a clean bill of health from Dr John Keen at the Royal Veterinary School in Edinburgh, it was later revealed that dehydration could have been the cause of his heart issue last weekend. He was also fitted with an ECG monitor to see if there’s any further cause for concern.

Russell commented: “He's fine and his heart is back to its normal rhythm, which is great. In the meantime, he's happily rolling in the mud and eating carrots, unaware of the sleepless night he's given us all.”

He could yet run another Grand National, but at the moment, discussions need to take place. Russell is set to sit down with the ‘Two Golf Widows’ later this week, when all the results are in, to finalise a decision. Following the disappointment of the last couple of years, it would be a real shame if One For Arthur’s career came to an end before one final crack at the Aintree circuit.