Grand National: Joy as Arthur is first Scottish winner since 1979

Grand National winner One For Arthur's owners Balinda McClung (left) and Debbs Thomson pictured with One for Arthur at Lucinda Russell's yard in Kinross. Picture; PA
Grand National winner One For Arthur's owners Balinda McClung (left) and Debbs Thomson pictured with One for Arthur at Lucinda Russell's yard in Kinross. Picture; PA
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WHEN One For Arthur crossed the finish line and was crowned the winner of the 2017 Grand National, his owners could hardly believe it.

Now Deborah Thomson, from Gullane, East Lothian, 
has recalled first setting eyes 
on the new champion and realising that he was something special.

Eight-year-old Arthur – the 14-1 shot – became the first Scottish winner of the famous race since 1979 when, with rider Derek Fox, he stormed 
to victory at Aintree on Saturday.

One For Arthur is trained by Kinross-based Lucinda Russell, whose partner and assistant is former champion jockey Peter Scudamore.

Today, Deborah, 46, said he had a distinct “presence” that immediately drew her and co-owner Belinda McClung to him when they were looking to buy a horse together.

“What attracted us to Arthur first of all was his presence – 
we just knew there was something special about him,” 
Deborah said. “We both agreed he was the horse we’d like to buy.”

The pair, known as the “two golf widows” have been close friends since they went to school in Berwickshire.

As their husbands play a lot of golf together, the women decided they wanted to do something as a pair, so combined their mutual love for horses. They bought Arthur when he was four years old.

Remembering Arthur’s victory, Deborah said it was an achievement in itself for their horse to be running in the World’s Greatest Steeple Chase.

She said: “I’m quite speechless.

“It was an amazing day, Arthur just cruised the race and Derek rode so well.

“We weren’t really expecting to come home with the winners trophy.

“We really couldn’t have done it without Lucinda and her fabulous team, or Derek, who have Arthur a brilliant ride – they are such a great partnership.

“It’s all been a dream come true.”

Both women have owned horses previously but this is the first time they have had a runner in the Grand National.

Deborah added: “Belinda and I went to school and pony club together, so we’ve always had that mutual interest in horses.

“We were at each other’s 21st birthday parties.

“It’s great to own Arthur with such an amazing friend.”

Lucinda said: “Arthur’s amazing. He’s improved every time. I kept thinking barring accidents, he would win the National and he has.

“Together we have had good and bad times but the horses are all back in form now.

“It’s brilliant for Scotland. I said it’s for Scotland, but it’s really for the team and the yard. It’s out of this world.”

Mr Scudamore added: “I felt we’d done everything we possibly could to get this horse here.”

A spokesman for William Hill Bookmakers said it took about £25 million on the 2017 race but added it would most likely have to “give it all back”.

He said: “It was a National to forget for us but a fairly grand one for punters in Scotland.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk