Fife-based trainer Lucinda Russell has said that One For Arthur is enjoying a better build-up to the 2020 Grand National than in 2017 when he finished first in the famous steeplechase. Russell will be hoping for a big run from him when he lines-up at Haydock Park on Saturday afternoon, his first outing following a wind operation.
Tiger Roll has attracted most debate following the revealing of the Grand National weights on Tuesday afternoon, however few of the other 102 entries are getting much attention and it may be a big mistake to overlook One For Arthur who has had his handicap rating dropped down to 148, the same on which he triumphed in the 2017 Grand National.
After the 2017 race, he was out of action for around 20 months courtesy of a tendon injury and he has had a mere five runs since then, however Russell is optimistic as to his chances in the 2020 renewal of the steeplechase, the trainer saying: “In my mind, he’s better than he was before he won the National, at the same stage of the season. The runup that we’ve had, he’s been feeling great. When he came back in the summer he was better then than he’s ever been and I think he’s continued that.”
In his last outing, One For Arthur finished fifth in the Becher Chase and Russell’s partner Peter Scudamore felt that the horse was struggling with a breathing problem which was holding him back during the final half-mile of the race.
Scudamore said: “He’s come there with every chance and just faded. I think now he’s had his wind done, he’ll find it easier to gallop to the line.” There was encouragement to be taken from One For Arthur’s effort when sixth in last year’s National, but Scudamore reckons his breathing may also have been an issue then. “He had a difficult preparation but I don’t blame that so much. I think he was fit by the time we got to Aintree, I just think his wind was beginning to catch him.”
One For Arthur will carry 10st 2lb in the 2020 Randox Health Grand National, a mere 2lb above minimum weight and more than a stone less than two-time winner Tiger Roll who has been given 11st 10lb.
One For Arthur’s connections will be looking for a big performance at Haydock this weekend, the runner wearing cheekpieces for the very first time. Russel said: “We want to give him a run to just sharpen him up a bit. Whereas in the past we always wanted to give him a run from a fitness point of view. But this is just to sharpen his jumping up.”