Racing

One For Arthur, two for Scotland

14-1 chance scores easy win in the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool

ONE FOR ARTHUR gave Scotland only their second win in the Grand National on Saturday under a brilliant first ride by Derek Fox in the world's most famous steeplechase at Aintree in Liverpool, England.

The 14-1 winner, trained by Lucinda Russell, took it up at the last fence to beat Cause Of Causes (16-1) by four-and-a-half lengths and emulate Rubstic's win in 1979.

Third was Saint Are (25-1), three-and-three-quarter lengths away. The 8-1 favourite Blaklion finished fourth, half-a-length further back.

Nineteen of 40 runners finished the gruelling four miles (6,400m) and two-and-a-half furlongs (500m) race.

The winning time was 9min 02.8sec on a good-to-soft track.

For Fox, it was a victory that a few weeks ago seemed unlikely to happen when he suffered a serious arm injury - he was only passed fit at the beginning of the week.

"This is a fairy tale but, for excellent medical care, I wouldn't have made it," said Irishman Fox, 24.

"This is unbelievable, he was so courageous. Some of us will never be a champion jockey but this is a day when the likes of me can strike against the big boys."

Russell, whose partner and riding great Peter Scudamore never won the race, was overcome with emotion.

"That was amazing, I'm tearful but it is amazing," said Russell.

"It's total credit to Derek, he never panicked. I have just won the National. We always thought barring an accident he would be a National winner and it has come true."

Russell said she was proud to join Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith as women to have trained a National winner.

"I never thought I would be in their exalted company," she said.

Scudamore, who will have to buy his grand-daughter a pony having promised her one if the horse won, said it was special to be connected to a National winner.

"I had a tinge of envy when AP McCoy finally rode a National winner (Don't Push It in 2010) but life goes on," said Scudamore.

"I'm immensely privileged and delighted to have joined the likes of Sue Smith and her husband Harvey in winning a National."

The owners, Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung - who decided to indulge in a sporting passion of their own as their husbands spent all their time on the golf course - could not believe their good fortune.

"It's been an absolutely amazing day. Arthur just cruised that race, Derek rode so well and I'm just a bit lost for words really. I just can't believe we've won the Grand National - it's fantastic," said Thomson.

Cause of Causes, under amateur Jamie Codd, managed to hold off the fast charging Saint Are, runner-up in 2015, while the favourite Blaklion was fourth, giving the oldest jockey in the race, 41-year-old Noel Fehily, his first finish in the top four in 15 rides.

Several of the backers of favoured horses knew their fate early when they finally got going after two false starts.

Last year's Scottish Grand National winner Vicente - bought recently by three-time National winning owner Trevor Hemmings - was brought down at the first by Cocktails At Dawn.

Katie Walsh's dreams of becoming the first woman to ride the winner failed to materialise as she finished 19th and last of the finishers on Wonderful Charm, while the top weight, The Last Samuri, was prominent before fading to finish 16th. - AFP.

 

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