One For Arthur is firmly on course to bid for a second victory in the Randox Health Grand National after delighting connections in a schooling session at Carlisle.
Lucinda Russell’s charge became only the second Scottish-trained winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase – and the first since Rubstic in 1979 – when claiming National glory in 2017.
He was unable to defend his crown 12 months ago, missing the entire season through injury, and he has unseated his rider on each of his two starts since returning from that lengthy absence.
However, Russell feels the 10-year-old is coming to the boil at just the right time judged on the way he jumped after racing at the Cumbrian venue on Sunday.
“We were really delighted with him. Obviously this season hasn’t gone smoothly, and we went to Carlisle for a confidence booster – probably more for us than Arthur, to be honest,” said the Kinross-based trainer.
“He jumped fantastically well, and Derek (Fox) was delighted – we were all bubbling afterwards.
“It’s great to get him back on track. It’s taken us until two weeks before Aintree, but we’ve got there in the end.
“He has another bit of work to do on Wednesday, and then it will just be a case of freshening him up.
“Only 12 more sleeps!”
Russell has another National in mind for Big River, who charged home to finish fourth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this month.
She said: “There have been a few bumps in the road this season for him as well, but he ran a great race at Cheltenham.
“The Scottish Grand National has been the plan for him all year. There’s also the Irish National if it looked like the ground was going to come up too quick at Ayr, but that’s where we’re aiming.”