One For Arthur becomes a Grand National treasure for Scotland

Marcus Armytage
Great Scot: One For Arthur and Derek Fox win the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree - Rex Features

One For Arthur, an eight-year-old trained in Kinross, proved to be one for Scotland when he out-jumped and outstayed his 39 rivals to win the 170th Randox Health Grand National at Aintree. Backed by Arthurs across Britain and most of Scotland, he was sent off at 14-1.

He was ridden by Derek Fox, who only returned to action this week less than a month after fracturing his wrist.

His trainer Lucinda Russell becomes the fourth woman to train a National winner; she was assisted by her partner, the former Champion jockey Peter Scudamore.

One For Arthur struggled to go the strong pace for the first mile but he finished like a train. At one stage he was 20 lengths back behind the pace-setting Rogue Angel but he steadily crept into the contest helped by some superb jumping.

With one of the favourites Definitely Red, hampered at Becher’s first time and pulled up at Valentines, it was the other popular horse in the betting, Blaklion, the 8-1 favourite, who slipped five lengths clear of the field three out under Noel Fehily apparently full of running. Favourite backers must have been counting their money.

Grand National tracker

But the Melling Road is deceptively far from home. There is still three quarters of mile to run at the point and the National is notorious for late changes in the running order as the stamina kicks in with some horses and fades with others.

Going to the second last Noel Fehily’s mount began to tire and a pack of five horses, with One For Arthur on their outside, started to close him down.

They swamped him at the second last and Fox sent One For Arthur to the front a few strides out from the last. There another superb leap gave him just the head start he wanted over Cause of Causes, ridden by the outstanding Irish amateur jockey Jamie Codd.

From there on up the two furlong run-in One For Arthur, driven out by Fox, never looked like surrendering his lead and he came home to collect the £560,000 first prize four and a half lengths ahead of Cause of Causes to become only the second ever Scottish winner of the race. The first was Rubstic in 1979.

Winners: Jockey Derek Fox and trainer Lucinda Russell celebrate with the trophy Credit: PA

Saint Are stayed on late to take third and take a place in the National two years after finishing second to Many Clouds. Blaklion was fourth.

With jockeys under strict instruction to dismount after the line and lead their horses to a special cool-down area for a drink and to be hosed down, Fox was escorted back to the winner’s enclosure on his feet. One of the biggest cheers was when, in front of the stands, he got a huge hug from his trainer.

Russell, 50, whose accommodation at the meeting was her camper van in the horsebox park rather than the Aldephi Hotel, described it as a dream come true.

“There’ll be a big party at Kinross,” she said. “I’m just delighted for Derek – he’s a big part of our set up. We missed him when he was at Jack Berry House (the Injured Jockeys’ Fund’s northern rehabilitation centre.)

“The girls – the Golf Widows – are just great. They’ve enjoyed every minute of the journey. I said to them this might be the greatest fun we ever have.”

Merry widows: winning owners Belinda McClung and Debs Thomson Credit: Dan Rowlands/Mercury Press

She added: “I wasn’t too worried about the ground. I had a quiet moment with him before the race. I was looking at him and thought you’re tall and light framed you’ll be alright. He was a bit out-paced early but he’s done really well.

"Derek is really good at holding them up but sometimes he’s criticised for being too far back but he wasn’t today. He’s only 24. He didn’t get flustered – he’s got a great attitude.

 “I’m delighted for Scotland, the two girls love racing, they put their money back into Scotland but we won’t mention the SNP, please!”

The Sligo-born Fox, who learned to be a jockey with his uncle Mark McNiff, joined Russell with the promise of nothing when he lost his 5lb claim in Ireland. But after some early success for her he was promoted to first jockey when Peter Buchanan retired.

In pre-Jack Berry House days he would have missed the race though injury after breaking his wrist and collar bone at Carlisle on March 9 but the physiotherapists there got him back with three days to spare.

Great leap forward: One For Arthur jumped brilliantly Credit: Rex

“He won it so easily,” said Fox. “The only concern I had was that he’d be too slow and get too far back. After a circuit I was thinking I can’t be going as well as I am. He was making two or three lengths at every fence so I thought I’d go a bit wider on him. In the end I was worried I’d get there too soon. But he’s the gamest horse I’ve ever ridden – he galloped all the way to the line.

“I was determined to get back (from the injury) and I’m very lucky to have the ride on him in the first place – I can’t believe it.”

Scots wahey: One For Arthur scores Credit: Reuters

Peter Scuadmore, a sounding board for the trainer and jockey who was wearing his father’s lucky tie, said: “I was worried about the ground. If you’d said to be an hour before ‘you could take him home now because the ground is too fast’ he have been on the lorry.

“Sometimes loyalty is still a great thing and I was very pleased we stuck by Derek and he won the National. I don’t like the word small but we’re not from one of the more fashionable places. Sometimes this race throws up fairy tales and this is one of them.”

In all 19 finished with Katie Walsh, the only female riding in the race, bringing up the rear on Wonderful Charm. Her horse was never quite able to get competitive.

For the fourth year in succession all horses came back safe and sound. On that score, just as the winner of this year’s National will be seen as a good result, so will the fact that not one horse was lost over the three days of this year’s meeting. 

Winner One For Arthur (D R Fox) 14-1 

2nd Cause Of Causes (Mr J J Codd) 16-1

3rd Saint Are (D N Russell) 25-1

4th Blaklion (N D Fehily) 8-1 Fav 

5th Gas Line Boy (R Dunne) 50-1

 

6:51PM

Cooling off

6:43PM

Soprano

6:39PM

Katie

6:20PM

Result

5.15 RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL (GRADE 3 HANDICAP CHASE) (CLASS 1)

1) ONE FOR ARTHUR (Two Golf Widows) 8 10 11 D R Fox (14-1)

2) Cause Of Causes (Mr John P McManus) 9 10 13 Mr J J Codd (16-1) 

3) Saint Are (Mr D W Fox) 11 10 10 D N Russell (25-1)

4) Blaklion (S Such & Cg Paletta) 8 11 1 N D Fehily (8-1 Fav).

5) Gas Line Boy (11 10 7 R T Dunne)  50-1

6) Vieux Lion Rouge (8 10 12 T Scudamore) 12-1

7) Lord Windermere (11 10 10 L P Aspell) 33-1

8) Regal Encore (IRE) (9 10 13 R M Power) 33-1

9) Pleasant Company (IRE) (9 10 12 R Walsh) 12-1

10) Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) (10 10 12 Charlie Deutsch) 50-1

11) Ballynagour (IRE) (11 10 11 David Noonan) 66-1

12) Le Mercurey (FR) (7 11 0 Sean Bowen) 50-1

13) Goodtoknow (9 10 7 Jake Greenall) 66-1

14) Just A Par (IRE) (10 10 9 Harry Cobden) 33-1

15) La Vaticane (FR) (8 10 6 R P McLernon) 80-1

16) The Last Samuri (IRE) (9 11 10 D Bass) 16-1

17) Tenor Nivernais (FR) (10 11 1 Aidan Coleman) 40-1

18) Roi Des Francs (FR) (8 11 3 J W Kennedy) 50-1

19) Wonderful Charm (FR) (9 11 2 Ms K Walsh) 25-1

Did not finish

Definitly Red (8 10 12 Danny Cook) pulled up,

More Of That (9 11 6 B J Geraghty) pulled up

Saphir Du Rheu (8 11 5 Sam Twiston-Davies) unseated rider,

Vicente (8 10 10 B Hughes) fell,

Rogue Angel (9 10 8 B J Cooper) pulled up

The Young Master (8 10 13 Mr S Waley-Cohen) fell,

Ucello Conti (9 10 12 D A Jacob) unseated rider,

Highland Lodge (11 10 11 Henry Brooke) pulled up,

Thunder And Roses (9 10 7 M A Enright) unseated rider,

Cocktails At Dawn (9 10 8 Nico de Boinville) fell,

Double Shuffle (IRE) (7 10 12 A P Heskin) pulled up,

Drop Out Joe (9 11 1 T J O'Brien) pulled up, 33-1 ,

Perfect Candidate (IRE) (10 11 5 P J Brennan) pulled up,

Raz De Maree (FR) (12 10 9 G N Fox) unseated rider

Wounded Warrior (IRE) (8 11 2 S W Flanagan) pulled up,

Measureofmydreams (IRE) (9 10 9 D Meyler) unseated rider,

Doctor Harper (IRE) (9 10 6 C O'Farrell) pulled up,

O'Faolains Boy (IRE) (10 10 11 P Townend) pulled up,

Shantou Flyer (IRE) (7 11 5 Jonathan Moore) pulled up,

Stellar Notion (IRE) (9 10 9 D J Mullins) pulled up,

Bishops Road (IRE) (9 10 10 J E Moore) pulled up,

Details

40 ran Off: 5.22 4{, 3}, {, 8, 10 Miss Lucinda V Russell, Kinross.

Tote: win £14.70 places £3.60, £4.70, £8.40, £3.50

Tote Exacta: £330.50

CSF: £187.25

Tricast: £5,602.59

Tote Trifecta: £5,802.20

6:11PM

30th fence

The following were pulled up before the last

More Of That

Drop Out Joe

O'Faollins Boy

Highland Lodge

Bishops Road

Rogue Angel

6:09PM

29th Fence

Doctor Harper, Wounded Warrior, Double Shuffle are the unlucky ones who come so close to completing.

6:06PM

27th fence

Shantou Flyer and Perfect Candidate go.

6:04PM

22nd fence

Ucello Conte is a faller.

6:04PM

15th Fence

Measureofmydreams unseated his rider.

6:04PM

13th Fence

Stellar Notion goes.

5:59PM

11th Fence

Saphir du Reu's day comes to an end.

5:59PM

9th fence

Definitly Red and Thunder And Bones go.

5:57PM

Sixth fence (Becher's Brook)

The Young Master falls and that cause Raz Da Maree to go as well.

At that fence, Definitly Red's jockey Cook nearly came off, and the saddle slipped. He knew then that he wasn't going to win but it was hard to pull the horse up.

5:55PM

First fence

Cocktails At Dawn, Vicente fell.

Credit: ITV

5:54PM

Here's what happened to your horse

Coming up

5:54PM

Winning trainer

in both the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup are women (Jessica Harrington).

5:53PM

There are the winning owners

Credit: ITV

And they've won the UEFA Cup!

5:49PM

More excellent news

All the jockeys are back safely. We'll have an update any minute now about how each and every horse got on.

5:48PM

The owners are known as The Golf Widows

"I thought it is baking hot, he is not going to win on this ground. But he showed his class."

Credit: ITV

5:41PM

Lucinda Russell trainer of the winner

So pleased for the team. It's them that should be here not me. I just organise things. We just knew that barring accidents he could win a National. It is brilliant for Scotland and for the whole team and the yard.

Credit: ITV

5:38PM

Mention for Telegraph columnist Ed Chamberlin

Who selected One For Arthur as his winner in his column this morning!

One For Arthur can become a true National treasure.

5:37PM

All 40 horses back safe and sound

That is fantastic news.

Brough Scott: "Because it is a handicap you do not have to be the best horse. But you have to be the toughest."

5:35PM

The equine heroes getting watered down

Credit: ITV

5:33PM

Derek Fox the winning jockey

"He just jumped so well. He never missed a fence. He was unbelievable."

5:32PM

Grand National result

1 One For Arthur (D R Fox) 14-1 

2 Cause Of Causes (Mr J J Codd) 16-1 

3 Saint Are (D N Russell) 25-1 

4 Blaklion (N D Fehily) 8-1 Fav

40 ran 

5:32PM

Result

ONE FOR ARTHUR has won the Grand National. Only the second Scottish winner ever.

5:31PM

Coming over the last

It is One For Arthur in front, Cause of Causes in second. Coming to the Elbow it is Arthur, he is pulling clear of Cause of Causes and he is keeping it up. Scotland going to win the National !

5:30PM

Two to go

it is Blaklion. Rogue Angel second. One For Arthur is coming with a run. Cause of Causes up there too. 

5:30PM

27th fence

Shantou Flyer is pulled up as is Perfect Candidate.

5:29PM

Balatine's

Pleasant Company, Wounded Warrior with mistakes but they are still going. 

5:28PM

Ucello Conte unseats rider at Bechers Brook second time

The only one to go there.

5:28PM

Fence 21

Double Shuffle, Perfect Candidate, The Last Samuri, Cause Of Causes, Le Mercurey all still going.

5:27PM

17th Fence

Roi Des Francs leads, Pleasant Company, Rogue Angel. Vieux Lion Rouge.

5:26PM

Roi De Francs is leading

at the 15th and Rogue Angel is there. Measureofmydreams has fallen at the Chair.

5:26PM

Fence 12

Highland Lodge, Another Shuffle, Good To Know, Pleasant Company are all going okay. Shantou Flyer, Cause of Causes. We've lost maybe seven so far I think.

5:25PM

Fence 11

Rogue Angel, The Last Samuri, Highland all over and up there. Saphir Du Reu has gone.

5:24PM

Fence 9

Definitly Red has been pulled up

5:24PM

Sixth fence

The Young Master falls there, and one other. Raz De Maree

5:23PM

Fifth Fence

The Young Master is prominent.

5:23PM

First fence

Vincente has fallen and also Cocktails At Dawn.

5:22PM

Getting ready to start

But it's a bit of a circus there. The main pack are ready to go and some of them really, really want to get cracking. But a few others are straggling off to the side and aren't joining. There is a false start! Some of them are too keen

Credit: ITV

They regather. And now another couple have bolted off.

Credit: ITV

Raz De Maree and one other.

"This is the problem," says commentator Richard Hoiles. With them being animals?  BUT THEY ARE OFF!!!

5:19PM

Lord Windermere

has gotten himself all razzed up, not clear if he is going to actually run in this race.

Brough Scott: "What's unique about this event is the shared ownership. Millions of us have had a bet, we are all involved and share ownership of it."

5:17PM

A lot of the jockeys

take their horse up to the first fence so they can have a look at what they're about to jump. It reminds me of PE when you are a kid and they make you vault over that pommel thing. I hated that. If you're reading, BAGA gymnastics badge people, go fly a kite.

Credit: ITV

5:15PM

Horses parade in front of the stands now

There's number 32, Raz de Maree, he's the oldest horse in the race and he is 12 years old.

Credit: AFP

Lord Windermere has been slow to get out of the parade ring and has held everyone up a bit. "That's not a good sign. If he does not want to start he will not want to finish," says ITV pundit Sir AP McCoy.

Credit: ITV

5:11PM

National anthem time

Sun is shining. Excitement is building. Packed stands, a sell-out 70,000 crowd. 

Kim Bailey, trainer of The Last Samuri: "I am very happy with him. He is very tough and he is the best horse in the race." He was second last year BUT he is carrying 12 pounds more today.

Credit: PA

5:07PM

Jockey group photo

All nervous, all excited, and I imagine all very hungry.

Credit: ITV

Here's what they will soon be undertaking. Very brave boys and girls.

pvdjRuMjE6hsrB1nW9WT5Hubv-04CwPs 5:04PM

Remarkable get-up here

and here's Klopp.

5:03PM

This horse has got a racy silk mask on

the saucy rascal. It's all gone a bit 50 Shades Of Horse

Credit: ITV

5:00PM

Jim White has a great view

Credit: Jim White

4:57PM

More Of That

An Irish contender is trained by Jonjo O'Neill, a legend of the sport, who was a great jockey and is now a top trainer. In 2010, his Don't Push It won the National for AP McCoy, and More Of That will go in the same colours, those of Irish betting icon JP McManus. More Of That's last race was in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham but it was not really his day. Class act, but he's had some setbacks. If you like the cut of his jib, you could bet on him at 16/1 with Corals.

Credit: Rex

4:47PM

Let's have a look at Blaklion

In the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase (Grade 3) at Haydock he was second to Vieux Lion Rouge, who is also involved today. VLR carries ten stone 12, Blaklion 11 stone 2. For those new to the Grand National, the race is a handicap, which means that expert assessors give each horse a weight depending on its previous performances. So, the top weight The Last Samuri has, in broad terms, the best CV of the contenders.

Credit: Rex

If the ground  is really muddy and heavy, carrying more weight becomes more arduous. But it's nice and sunny today so you shouldn't rule out horses that are heaving a bit around with them.

4:42PM

Roi Des Francs

Who is priced at 80/1, is ridden by Jack Kennedy - good strong name that. Jack's the youngest rider in the race. Roi Des Francs is trained by Gordon Elliott; he won his last race, at Down Royal blinkered for the first time.

Credit: Getty

4:35PM

Okay. That's the appetisers taken care of

One can forget how much brilliant racing there is on Grand National day. But that's not the focus of our attention for the rest of the day. The job now is to pick the winner of the world's greatest horserace. Here are the runners and riders.

Huge gamble coming in for Definitly Red, they're going 15/2 about him at Corals. That means you'd win £7.50 for a pound bet.

4:23PM

Just one race before the National

It's the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) and that's 3miles and a tiny bit.

Two circuits over the hurdles, Puffin Billy is leading them around. Cole Harden has taken it up.

Different Gravy is pulled up. Supasundae, Three Musketeers, Yanworth all involved. Ballyoptic and Snow Falcon too. Yanworth wins.

Aintree 4.20 

1 Yanworth (B J Geraghty) 9-4 Fav

2 Supasundae (R M Power) 5-1 

3 Snow Falcon (S W Flanagan) 9-1 

Alan King: "Relieved more than happy. We thought he would go three miles but I was not confident. He could be even better over a fence, he will go novice chasing in the autumn."

4:21PM

Vantage point

Credit: EPA

4:12PM

Marlborough though, has a different view

The Telegraph's top tipster has a fancy for Saphir Du Rheu. Read why that is here.

The positive effects of an easy, confidence-boosting success should never be underestimated in racing as they often provide a potent catalyst for improvement or resurgence, which has been the case for my Grand National selection, Saphir Du Rheu.

His facile victory over much inferior opposition at Kelso in February – his first success for more than 15 months – has prompted a rediscovery of enthusiasm and form as he showcased with a fine effort in the Timico Gold Cup at the recent Cheltenham Festival. 

The level of that performance is far above anything he has achieved since his novice chasing days, when he looked a top-class prospect, and, at last,  he seems ready to fulfil that early potential.

He raced just behind the pace at Cheltenham and impressed with his economical jumping, an area that warranted concern not so long ago.While never looking like the winner, he kept on solidly from the final fence and was beaten just over six lengths in a race that was run in a good time.  Armed with this form, the Handicapper would surely have allotted him more weight.

If you share that view, you can back Saphir at a juicy 25/1 at Corals

4:09PM

Ed Chamberlin reckons

That One For Arthur might be the, well, the one. Read him on that here.

As for the race itself, it is getting tougher and tougher to pick the right horse. The first ever winner was called Lottery, and that feels appropriate for this year. I like One For Arthur. My grandfather, Jock Burns, would always back two things: Scottish-trained runners (the clue’s in the name) and greys.

Jock’s method only came good once, in 1979 with Rubstic, but I think One For Arthur has big claims. Linda Russell’s Kinross-based eight-year-old is a brilliant jumper - he could get round at Badminton. And he is owned by the Golf Widows (Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson), whose husbands clearly spend all their time on the golf course and had got them this horse. Arthur was a really impressive winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick, and they were great fun to interview after that, so I hope we get another chance on Saturday.

If you reckon the ITV presenter might have the goods, then you can back Arthur at 14/1 with Corals.

4:02PM

Washing down

4:00PM

God at Aintree

Or Partridge, as least.

3:53PM

Here's the hero having a bit of a wash

Credit: ITV

3:47PM

In the 3.40

Robbie Power is at it again! Sizing Codelco has romped home. That's given him, Colin Tizzard and Alan Potts their FOURTH win of the week!

AP on Robbie: "I don't know what he's eating or drinking but I wouldn't mind some of it."

3:44PM

Definitly Red

I am still cross at him for dropping that e, but that aside, he is now the clear favourite for the National. He's available at 10/1, but there are several other tempting bets as well.

3:42PM

The fences are daunting

This flyover gives you a sense of just how brave / nuts these riders are.

Grand National course flyover: the most dangerous fences

3:39PM

Where's your National money, then?

If you're new to betting, well, you're in for a treat. Several companies, including Betfair, 188Bet and William Hill have got decent offers if you start an account. Here is Your guide to the best free bets and offers for the Grand National

3:31PM

Wee Bradley Lowery on the racecard as number 41!

Credit: ITV

here he is in the weighing room

Credit: ITV

3:20PM

Jim White

"Red Rum Garden Bar is getting a little frantic. Combination of 5.15 start and relentless sun has already claimed its first casualties of the day."

Credit: PA

Nothing to top these scenes from yesterday yet but this is an event where stamina considerations definitely come into play.

3:19PM

Good news

Politologue is okay.

Credit: ITV

Looks like the feller literally tripped over his own feet.

3:09PM

Thrilling race, the 3pm

San Benedeto  has won it.

Politologue pinged the last, landed fine but then stumbled. He fell. Hope he's okay. Sam T-D, the jockey, is up and fine. Charbel never got going at all.

3:04PM

Here's Jim White

Three former winners - Mick Fitzgerald, our very own Marcus Armytage and double winner Sam Llewyllyn - compare notes at the second last....

Credit: Jim White

3:00PM

15.00

Goes off in a minute. Charbel the odds-on favourite with some, but as much as 11/8 with others.

He's looking a bit excited.

2:57PM

Jockeys

Ed Chamberlin: "They look like Reservoir Dogs."

AP McCoy: "I don't know about reservoir. Dogs, maybe".

Credit: ITV

McCoy: "Some old guy there dressed up as  a jockey."

Ruby is showing some of the newbies around the course and passing on a tip or two.

2:54PM

Lucy Verasamy

Who is a weather forecaster, can exclusively reveal that it is nice weather there. Will be a little bit colder later, 17 degrees, but even so after the race all the horses will have water put on them and fans to help them cool down.

Credit: ITV

2:40PM

Owner Alan Potts

"It's not how you earn it, it's how you spend it. We live a quiet life apart from when we come racing."

Aside from Finian's Oscar, he's got Sizing Codelco in the 3.40 as well.

Eight Grade Ones for Colin Tizzard now.

2:29PM

In the 2.25 at Aintree

The Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Lough Derg Spirit is making the running. I liked Messire Des Obeaux in this, wonder if he can improve from that third in the Neptune at Cheltenham? Finian's Oscar, though, has come with a terrific run as they come up to the line, and much as in the Neptune;, MDO cannot come again. That's a really impressive win from Finian's Oscar. Great ride from Robbie Power. Colin Tizzard is in dreamland.

And a good one for the punters - Oscar the favourite.

2:19PM

For God's sake get out of the way Jim

You'll be run over by a horse.

2:04PM

ITV's coverage begins

Mick Fitzgerald is in the Adelphi Hotel, where he famously partied all night on the Saturday the National was postponed for the bomb scare.

"It is a thrill like no other. When you win you float in. But I have known the other side of it as well. Lying on the floor at the second fence, unable to feel my legs for a time. Scared. But you know what? I would do it all again."

1:55PM

1.45 at Aintree

The first race of the day, the Gaskells Handicap Hurdle is off in glorious sunshine. And Fountain's Windfall is off in glorious style himself. He has made all, and he is going to make all here to win in high style. He has destroyed the field there, led from first to last and he has ground his rivals into the dust.

As Ed Chamberlin said in his column this morning:

I also like Perfect Candidate. He is a bold-jumping front-runner, and when the ground is decent, as it will be, a front-runner can be hard to peg back over these National fences. I thought Fergal O’Brien might have gone for Gold with him at Cheltenham but I am glad they have kept him fresh for this.

Clue there in that front-running performance?

Read ITV's Ed: " One For Arthur can become a true National treasure."

1:29PM

Grand National Telgraph sports desk fancies

Football blogger and noted Scottish person JJ Bull: Highland Lodge. "I was in Skye last month and that's quite near the Highlands, isn't it?"

Deputy online sports editor Ben Curtis: Measureofmydreams "Why have I backed it? I don't know. It is a measure of my dreams."

Natasha Henry, Formula 1 blogger: "My grandad's tip was Lord Windermere. So that."

Online sports editor Thom Gibbs selects Just A Par. "It sounds like something that a grime artist would say at the end of every line."

Sean Gibson, social media eggsbert is going for Wounded Warrior. His reason? "Because Callum told me to."

God in heaven. Not exactly an impressive bunch of tipsters, eh? Readers, I can only apologise. Here are two actual experts, Daily Telegraph tipster Marlborough and Marcus Armytage, who knows what it takes to win the race because he has literally actually won the race.

Marlbrough

The positive effects of an easy, confidence-boosting success should never be underestimated in racing as they often provide a potent catalyst for improvement or resurgence, which has been the case for my Grand National selection, Saphir Du Rheu.

His facile victory over much inferior opposition at Kelso in February – his first success for more than 15 months – has prompted a rediscovery of enthusiasm and form as he showcased with a fine effort in the Timico Gold Cup at the recent Cheltenham Festival. 

Armytage

More on that here

1:11PM

On the other hand, THIS is the sort of press release we like

Retired race horse, Mister McGoldrick, was seen prancing around in front of the iconic Liver Building, showing off his painted hooves and diamante mane while getting a blow dry from some of Liverpool’s finest beauty artists, to promote his friends featuring www.manematch.co.uk which helps people find the horse of their dreams for this Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National.

Credit: Mane Match

I have no idea why. But well done to all concerned. His little horsey feet!

Credit: Mane Match

 

1:07PM

Two press release emails in a row that make me think

that a total and, if necessary, ultraviolent feminist revolution is what this country needs right away

Betway’s Alan Alger, said: “I’m not sure whether it’s the pink and purple silks or the juicy price that has caught the Liverpool ladies’ attention – but there will be a loud cheer if Le Mercurey goes in."

and

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: “Housewives are backing Cocktails At Dawn."

Bleurch to both.

12:41PM

Horse welfare

Temperatures on a bright sunny day are expected to be around 17 degrees Celsius this afternoon and could even reach 20 degrees Celsius.

Aintree Racecourse prioritises horse welfare above all else, with a raft of measures introduced over the years.

One of the most important is the wash-down area, which is there to cool horses after a race. It has large cooling fans, cold water sprays and buckets of cold water to throw over horses. The intention is to bring down a horse's temperature back to normal as quickly as possible.

John Baker, Regional Director of Jockey Club Racecourses North West, said: "It is forecast to be a warm afternoon and therefore racegoers should not be surprised if jockeys dismount on the course after the Randox Health Grand National and buckets of water are thrown over the horses as they are led to the wash-down area.

"This is a normal procedure, rather than being exceptional, and hopefully everyone will recognise that the horses are always our top priority.

"This may mean that one or two of the first four horses, who normally come into the winner's enclosure, may not do so as cooling down continues."

12:25PM

Jockey change

Aidan Coleman will ride Tenor Nivernais in the Randox Health Grand National.

He replaces Liam Treadwell, who is injured after falling at the first fence in the Randox Health Topham Chase yesterday.

Rotten luck for Liam, hard lines.

Tenor Nivernais

Tenor Nivernais is trained by Venetia Williams. He won by THIRTY lengths not last race but the race before, at Ascot, but that was three miles and his stamina is under question over this freakishly long distance. Liam was riding him that day. Still, he's been well treated by the handicapper.

12:13PM

Sunny day

Good day! Forms books / pins at the ready. It’s a lovely day at Aintree. Here’s Jim White:

One thing to be said from the course: although it's blisteringly hot and you'd imagine everything had dried up in a frazzle, the ground is good. They chucked half the Mersey on it overnight. Watering it still at 11 o'clock.

Very impressed by John Kempton's suit. He wore it 50 years ago the day Foinavon won and it still fits him. Not only that, a three piece tweed number in this temperature takes some wearing...

11:58AM

Kempton, at Aintree

A lovely pic from our own Jim White who is on Merseyside for us this afternoon:

Credit: JIM WHITE

50 years on John Kempton, trainer of biggest outsider ever to win the National, explains how Foinavon did it. And John's wearing the same magnificent suit he was that day in 1967.

11:49AM

Horses for courses

Good afternoon everybody, welcome to our live coverage of Grand National Saturday.

The race begins at Aintree in just over five hours, which should be more than enough time to stick pins into a list of horses, travel down to your local turf accountant and gamble responsibly.

We'll have all the news, build-up and expert betting advice guessing ahead of the race. Alan Tyers will be along shortly.

In the meantime, here's some news about what's being backed this morning:

A major Grand National gamble on rank outsider Cocktails At Dawn is taking place this morning with the catchy-named horse proving incredibly popular amongst millions of once a year punters.

Leading bookmaker Coral has slashed the odds on Cocktails At Dawn to 28/1 from 80/1 and all British bookmakers have taken similar evasive action in the face of one of multi-million pound liabilities.

Grand National Festival 2017: Ladies Day at Aintree, in pictures

"This is one of the most surprising and extraordinary Grand National gambles in recent history as Cocktails At Dawn has arguably the least chance on form of all 40 runners in the race, yet the horse's name has grabbed the attention of millions of once a year punters," said Simon Clare, Coral Spokesman.

"Bookmakers will be nursing one of the worst Grand National hangovers ever tomorrow if Cocktails At Dawn comes home in front", added Clare.

Definitly Red is proving the most popular horse with Coral in terms of volume of bets, well ahead of the Last Samuri, One For Arthur and Pleasant Company. Cocktails At Dawn is tenth in the list, but given the huge odds on offer (now 28/1 from 80/1), will be by far the worst result in Coral's book. Wonderful Charm is ninth in the list and has been cut to 25/1 from 33/1.

TOP TEN BEST BACKED HORSES WITH CORAL (as at 11am)

  1. Definitly Red
  2. The Last Samuri
  3. One For Arthur
  4. Pleasant Company
  5. Vieux Lion Rouge
  6. Rogue Angel
  7. Blaklion
  8. Cause of Causes
  9. Wonderful Charm
  10. Cocktails At Dawn

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