Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell landed one of the biggest races of her career when One For Arthur turned the £60,000 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase into a one-horse race at Warwick’s richest meeting of the season on Saturday, writes David Hucker.
With 2013 winner Rigadin De Beauchene setting a strong pace from the off, this three mile and five furlong contest proved a real test of stamina, with a number of fancied runners calling it a day well before the end.
With the leader giving way to Goodtoknow at the third-last fence, it looked like a close finish was on the cards but, in behind, Derek Fox was making relentless progress down the outside on One For Arthur.
Hitting the front at the penultimate obstacle, they drew right away from their toiling rivals to score by six lengths, setting up a challenge for the Randox Health Grand National, for which Paddy Power introduced One For Arthur into the betting at 40-1.
There was an impressive weight-carrying performance in the opening Betfred ‘Goals Galore’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle when 6-1 shot Celestial Magic collared long-time leader Wildmoor Boy after the last flight to defy the burden of 12-0 in the testing ground.
Jockey Noel Fehily is having a good season, coming into the meeting with 70 winners on the board.
He had six booked rides and added to his tally on the first of them when Overtown Express led approaching the final fence and came right away from his rivals to land the Betfred ‘January Sale’ Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase.
Fehily and trainer Harry Fry then doubled up in the following Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase (Listed Race) with American who, apart from one untidy jump, flew the five fences down the back straight and held off the challenge of Champers On Ice, who tried in vain to close the gap on the run to the line.
Tobefair notched his sixth win on the trot when taking the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier), but he could be in for a hefty rise in the weights for this success and will find the competition much hotter in future.
Peregrine Run, trained in County Kildare by Peter Fahey, flew the flag for Ireland in the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As The Leamington Hurdle) as he looked to extend his winning sequence to five.
He was starting to tire when making mistakes at the last two flights as he tried in vain to reel in Willoughby Court who, having led from the start, ran out a good winner in the hands of David Bass to be quoted at 14-1 to follow up at the Cheltenham Festival.