One for Arthur can deliver Scots Grand National glory

Pirate IRWIN
The highlight of the annual Grand National Festival is a steeplechase, run over a distance of four miles and two furlongs, 74 yards (6,907 metres), the biggest betting race in the United Kingdom

Lucinda Russell can become the fourth woman trainer to win the world's greatest steeplechase The Grand National on Saturday with her runner One For Arthur and give Scotland their first winner since Rubstic in 1979.

Russell, whose companion riding great Peter Scudamore never won the race, would join the hallowed ranks of Jenny Pitman, who won it twice, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith if her well-handicapped runner conquers the intimidating 30 fences and 39 rivals.

One For Arthur -- who became a live contender when winning the Classic Chase at Warwick earlier this season -- would also be a wonderful reward for the owners 'Two Golf Widows'.

Belinda McClung and Debs Thompson decided rather than sit at home while their respective other halves played golf they would indulge in their own sporting passion.

Russell will have 24-year-old Irishman Derek Fox back on board after he missed three weeks because of injury.

"He’s got all the attributes you would want for a Grand National horse," Russell told The Sun.

"I love the National -– it's right in my spirit. It's a race I enjoy and I think he'll enjoy it – that's the most important thing."

Scudamore, whose father Michael won the great race riding Oxo in 1959, may have to keep his views to himself should One For Arthur and Vieux Lion Rouge be battling each other on the demanding run in -- his eldest son Tom is the latter's rider.

"If they jump the last upsides I would reflect in the glory of whoever wins," said Scudamore, whose best finish was third on Corbiere in 1985.

"There’s a little bit of a family rivalry."

Vieux Lion Rouge comes to the race on the back of two impressive wins including victory over the Aintree fences -- but over a shorter trip than the four miles plus of Saturday's race -- after an honourable seventh in last year's edition.

"He seems to have matured an awful lot this year and I certainly wouldn't be swapping him for anything at this stage," said 34-year-old Tom Scudamore.

Vieux Lion Rouge -- trained by David Pipe son of the older Scudamore's former boss Martin Pipe -- had been favourite for quite a while but this week has seen Definitly Red supplant him.

His trainer Brian Ellison may not be a household name but he has become quite a force in the jumps game and a win in the National would give him the recognition he deserves.

He is sweet on his chances -- his previous runner was 13th -- and is a dream ride for Danny Cook, who Ellison says his orders to him will be "to stay calm".

"I just hope Danny doesn't go to the front too early," Ellison told the Racing Post.

"He does that all the time. It's just the way he likes to ride."

Jumps racing's dominant owner JP McManus has had his highs and lows in the race.

Don't Push It gave riding legend AP McCoy his one and only winner in the race in 2010 but his Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised had to be put down in the 2012 edition.

This weekend, his retained jockey, fellow Irishman Barry Geraghty has opted for More Of That instead of the experienced Cause of Causes.

"It was a tough call and one might say More Of That was disappointing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (he was sixth) but there is class there," said the 37-year-old, who won on Monty's Pass in 2003.

Geraghty may have seen it all before but three teenagers will have the experience of their life on Saturday -- Sean Bowen, 19, rides Le Mercurey, 18-year-old Harry Cobden is on Just A Par and the baby of them all Jack Kennedy, 17, is aboard Roi Des Francs.