Talking Horses: heart scans for One For Arthur with career in balance

Chris Cook
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA</span>
Photograph: Ian Rutherford/PA

One For Arthur joined the Monday morning commute over the Forth Bridge into Edinburgh as connections seek answers to the questions raised by his disappointing performance at Haydock on Saturday. The Grand National winner of 2017 was found to have a fibrillating heart soon after being pulled up in the Unibet Grand National Trial but the signs are good that he has made a quick recovery.

“He’s fine, you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with him,” said Peter Scudamore, partner to the trainer Lucinda Russell, on Sunday. “Luce has listened to his heart now and she thinks it’s fine.

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“We’ve had this with other horses, it’s not a unique case. Big River had it at Haydock [in November 2017] and then he was running at Warwick two weeks into January. But that’s the best scenario. In the worst case scenario, he would need treatment to push his heart back into its rhythm.”

It so happens that Russell’s horses have been the subjects for a study in equine cardiology by the veterinary school at Edinburgh University, so baseline heart ECGs for One For Arthur had been taken long before Saturday’s problem presented itself. On Monday, the horse will return to the University for further scans in the hope of a clarifying diagnosis.

“I don’t know what the outcome of this is,” Scudamore said. “Obviously, there was a lot of emotion at Haydock. What I feel is we should sit down with the facts when the vets have looked and make a decision when the emotion is out of it at the end of the week.

“I suggest what’ll happen is, we’ll make a decision and if he’s right, he’ll have to go and have a racecourse gallop somewhere and make sure that he’s right. Then he can run [in the National in April]. If he’s still wrong at the end of the week, that’s probably the end of his career. But let’s see what happens when we take the emotion out of it.”

There was some relief for Russell and Scudamore that a reason for Arthur’s disappointment showed itself. He had been working well at home and there was optimism that, in first-time cheekpieces, he would show up well on Saturday. He could yet run another big race at Aintree but that evidently depends on what specialist vets say this week.

Cheltenham Festival stat of the day, by Paul Ferguson

The past eight winners of the Festival’s opening contest, the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle, had won a Graded novice hurdle earlier in the campaign. This is something which market-leader Shishkin will need to overcome, if he is to provide trainer Nicky Henderson with a fourth win in the race. Henderson has a mixed record in the Supreme, with Altior his only winner during the past 27 years (36 runners) and he has seen some big names beaten in this event, such as Sprinter Sacre, Binocular, My Tent Or Yours and Buveur d’Air to name just four.

The Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide 2020, written by Paul Ferguson, is published this week and available through this link for £15.95.

A Cheltenham Festival stat of the day will appear here from Monday to Friday for the next three weeks.

Monday’s best bets

Lingfield is a track where every finish brings despair for someone, as we have discussed in the past, so it’s a risky business to be napping a strong-finisher there. But Miss Elsa (2.00) is a compelling sort making good progress on the all-weather this winter, with two wins from her last five starts.

Since she scored over this course and distance in mid-December, she has twice been foiled by steady early paces in bigger fields. With no clear pace-setter, it could happen again, but she has only eight rivals this time, giving her a better chance of picking her way through in the final half-mile.

Tebay is naturally a strong favourite, which helps shore up her odds at 4-1 or so. If she can keep tabs on him until the home turn, a return to winning ways is very possible.

On Carlisle’s hurdles-only card, Serious Ego (3.55) demands attention at 11-4 after an eye-catching effort at Haydock last time. Sent off at 20-1 on his second start since joining Nicky Richards from Gordon Elliott, he ran on strongly to be third. The extra three furlongs around this more galloping circuit should help and he attracted interest as soon as betting opened last night.

Another ex-Irish runner, Condarcia (4.30) was too free for her amateur rider at Catterick in December. She had looked capable of winning a race like this when second on her previous start and Danny McMenamin’s return to the saddle should help. She’s 5-1.

Chris Cook's tips


1.30 Ramatuelle 2.00 Miss Elsa (nap) 2.35 Amaretto 3.10 Handsome Yank 3.40 Mesmeric 4.15 Al Asef 4.45 Street Life 


2.15 Sao Maxence 2.50 Multellie 3.25 Jobsonfire 3.55 Serious Ego (nb) 4.30 Condarcia 5.00 Ballydonagh Boy 


4.55 Lua De Mel 5.30 Mochalov 6.00 Fly The Nest 6.30 Godhead 7.00 Malmesbury Abbey 7.30 Vibrance 8.00 Shaffire 8.30 Snow Leopard

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