Arthur could be the one for Lucinda Russell and Peter Scudamore

Thu 20 Jul 2017

Former champion jockey Peter Scudamore never managed to emulate his father by winning the Randox Health Grand National as a jockey - but he will take just as much pride out of a victory for One For Arthur this year.

Scudamore is assistant trainer to his partner, Kinross-based Lucinda Russell, and his input is regarded as invaluable by the licence holder, who specifically points to his nurturing of jockey Derek Fox as a case in point.

One For Arthur shot towards the head of the betting after winning Warwick's Classic Chase, having earlier gone close over the National fences in the Becher Chase.

He is owned by The Golf Widows, namely Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung.

"Debs and Belinda actually went to school together and then met up again later in life," said Russell.

"As their husbands both play a lot of golf they wanted something they could enjoy together, too, and thought this was a good way.

"They've both had horses for years on and off, but by getting one together they've found it very enjoyable. They are great owners and it helps that they are both very understanding.

"Belinda is a steward and knows horses inside out, while Debs is from a farming background so a lot of the nitty gritty doesn't need explaining to them."

One For Arthur's career has always promised plenty, but it has only been this season he has really delivered.

"He was a good hurdler as a novice and won three on the bounce, but then we took him down to Aintree and that was all a bit much," said Russell.

"We couldn't wait to send him over fences but we asked him plenty of questions and he probably wasn't mature enough for Cheltenham when we took him there in the November.

"That seemed to knock him back a bit, you often get horses who have a good season and then the following one is a bit of a letdown.

"In his younger days I remember saying to them all if they'd rather have a Gold Cup horse or a National one and it's funny now but they all said National, so it's always been at the back of our minds."

It is becoming increasingly rare for trainers north of Lambourn to be involved in the major races these days, although Sue Smith proved in 2013 the Grand National can still be won by the 'little man'. 

"The racing is less competitive up here but that means as younger horses they don't have it as hard too early," explained Russell.

"I think that then helps them in later life when they can mature at their own pace. We can take our time with horses and don't rush them, whereas down south they might win a novice and go straight into a graded race.

"It definitely helps them go on longer and that might be why the north tends to do a bit better in staying chases."

Michael Scudamore famously won the National on Oxo in 1959 and this year sees his grandson and Peter's son, Tom, ride favourite Vieux Lion Rouge. 

"Scu plays a big part in the yard, but the one thing above all else he has brought is professionalism," said Russell.

"He's worked for all the great trainers and cherry picked the best bits, he's a real perfectionist.

"Everyone knows his record in the National isn't great, but he's left no stone unturned in Arthur's prep.

"He's been around once in the Becher without schooling over a special fence, but we do have a green schooling one which is our so-called Aintree fence.

"It's been a bit weird watching the horses he's been running against winning big races, but I'm sure we've done the right thing.

"We said straight away we'd save him as he's not a horse who stands too much racing. His form has really stacked up well.

 "I hope he's got the class, he's gone up a lot in the weights but he's still got 10st 6lb so that's a fine weight.

"There's a great buzz about the place, all our horses are very important to us but we have every day mapped out for him, he means a lot to the yard."

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