Lucinda Russell cannot wait for next year’s Randox Health Grand National after One For Arthur put up his best performance since winning the Aintree showpiece in 2017.
The nine-year-old was unable to defend his title 12 months ago and the omens had not been favourable in the run-up to the big race, as he had unseated his rider in his two previous starts this season.
However, he had pleased Russell and her team in the last couple of weeks and justified their faith with a great effort to finish sixth behind Tiger Roll.
“He’s absolutely fine this morning, we’re delighted with him. He’s eaten up and done everything that good racehorses should do,” said the Kinross handler on Sunday.
“We’re just so pleased, so proud of him, so proud of everyone here.
“He’ll have a nice holiday now and will have two or three runs before next year’s Grand National. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
The 2020 renewal is also the objective for Walk In The Mill, who made up for being a late withdrawal last year to take fourth place after it looked as though he might not make the cut.
Trainer Robert Walford aims to take him back to Liverpool for the Becher Chase over the famous fences, a race which he won in December.
“He’s fine, no bother at all. Very pleased with the run. He jumped great, everything went right, probably he may have been a bit closer had it been softer,” said the Dorset handler.
“We’re taking him back there as often as we can with the Becher Chase again. That’s it for the season. He’s in the Scottish National and the Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup), he seems very bright but it’s doubtful you’ll see him again this season.
“We’ll do it all over again next year, if he gets in.
“It was a great day and he’s a star horse.”
Anibale Fly was the best of owner JP McManus’ three runners. The Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up, who was fourth in 2018, filled fifth place when carrying top-weight of 11st 10lb.
“He ran a blinder. He just wasn’t good enough on the day, but he jumped well and had every chance,” said McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry.
The same colours were sported by Regal Encore, who went one place better than in 2017 when seventh this time.
“He ran a blinder as well. We couldn’t be happier with him,” said Berry.
“So far so good with them. We’ll see how they are, but I’d say Anibale and Regal Encore it’s most unlikely they will run again his season.”
Berry reported Minella Rocco to be none the worse after being pulled up at the 20th fence.
“He was OK. I don’t know what happened to him, but he was travelling well for a long way then he just got tired before Becher’s and Richie (McLernon) pulled him up,” he said.
Berry, part of the winning team behind Don’t Push It in 2010, was full of praise for Tiger Roll and the Gordon Elliott stable in becoming only the fifth horse to win the great race two years in a row.
“It was fantastic to see the winner do what he did. It was brilliant. It was a great performance and credit to everybody,” he said.