Handicappers' Blog

BHA head handicapper, Phil Smith, assesses the winner of the 2017 Randox Grand National, One For Arthur.

  • Thursday 13 April
  • Blog
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Following in the footsteps of Auroras Encore (2013) and Ballabriggs (2011), the world’s most famous horse race has been won by northern-trained horses on three occasions in the last seven years, writes Phil Smith.

Much has already been written about the brilliant ride given to the winner by Derek Fox, which indeed, it was.  It was an unusual National in that all bar one of the first twelve home got hold up rides. Look at the Raceform comments – “held up” was used four times, “mid div” (four times) and “towards rear” (thrice).

Arguably, Rogue Angel and Roi Des Francs at one point went too quick. This was not in the early stages but might have been towards the end of the first circuit and going out for the second one. It was noticeable that, after being badly hampered by a loose horse, Roi Des Francs was back in front in less than a furlong.

One For Arthur ran a very similar race to his one at Warwick. In my notes for that race are the comments that it was a very good pace given the heavy ground and that Vivaldi Collonges, Rigadin de Beauchene and Shotgun Paddy set it up for a closer. One For Arthur is not blessed with great pace. However, he has two great qualities which hold him in good stead. He jumps and he stays.

I have put him up 8lb for winning, from 148 to 156. In this year’s race, that would have given him 11st 5lb. Would he have won carrying that weight this year? I do not know but I am sure he would have had a good chance.

That is the object of the official Handicapper - to give all the horses an equal chance. Of course, he is only eight-years-old.  There has not been a younger Grand National winner since 1940.  So there may be some more improvement in him for next year’s Randox Health Grand National.

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