The National Hunt season gets underway properly over the coming weeks. Many potential Grand National runners will have their first runs of the season and one previous winner will be seen this coming weekend. 2017 winner, One For Arthur, is having his reappearance run with two potential races still in the mix.
First choice is a trip to Kelso on Saturday for a limited handicap chase that is over a distance of 3m2f. Realistically, this is the right kind of distance he needs to be starting off at. His second choice is a trip to Aintree on Sunday. That would be the 3m1f veterans chase, the race of choice on that card.
The plan as a whole is to run four times this season, with the Grand National being his final run and main aim. After starting off this weekend, the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences in December would be his next race. That is likely to be followed by a prep run after Christmas to put him spot-on for the National in April.
Since winning the race in 2017, One For Arthur hasn’t had the rub of the green at all. Injuries have prevented him from getting any real momentum around his racing again. However, the Lucinda Russell yard has to be pleased with what he did in the Grand National at the end of last season, something that must give them hope that he can have a good campaign ahead of another tilt at the race in 2020.
He finished a very credible 6th behind the winner Tiger Roll in April, finishing 26 lengths behind the winner. That came on the back of two races where he unseated his rider and didn’t complete, so it was hardly the perfect preparation last season.
While the focus this weekend will be on taking small steps and building towards the National, the positive side of this is that things cannot go much worse than they did last season. If he can complete and build fitness over the three runs he will have before the National then there has to be hope that he can go and compete well in the big race once again. Even though he will be 11 by the time the 2020 renewal comes around.
As far as his handicap mark goes, he is exactly where he needs to be when you look at his past two efforts. He won the race in 2017 off 148 and finished 6th off 154 last season. He begins his campaign here off 151 which is a mark he can be competitive off.
There is a chance that he could drop down a little too, and that could put him on the same mark as when he won the race. That would certainly make him an interesting proposition if he showed a little spark between now and then.
This weekend will simply be about fitness though, and making it round the course in one piece to give Lucinda Russell something to work on over the coming months. Ante-post odds with Paddy Power put One For Arthur on 50/1 for the 2020 Grand National. They will no doubt drop significantly if he manages to sparkle this weekend!