Classic triumph for One For Arthur
Scottish raider One For Arthur claimed top honours in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick.
Derek Fox looks for dangers as One For Arthur comes home clear in the Classic Chase at Warwick.
Lucinda Russell's charge impressed on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso in October before finishing a close-up fifth in the Becher Chase over Aintree's Grand National fences.
Switched back to regulation obstacles for this three-mile-five-furlong slog, One For Arthur was given a very patient ride by Derek Fox, while 2013 winner Rigadin De Beauchene set the pace. Indeed, he did well to stay in the race and was left out the back when hampered by the early fall of Kaki De La Pree.
One For Arthur was still nearer last than first racing down the back straight, but began to take closer order after jumping the fourth fence from the finish as the pacesetter began to falter.
Goodtoknow moved to the front rounding the home turn, with the likes of Mountainous, Shotgun Paddy and Viva Steve attempting to throw down their challenges, but 14/1 shot One For Arthur covered the move and hit the front at the second-last fence.
Staying on strongly, he began to assert on the run to the final obstacle and a huge leap sealed a six-length success.
Goodtoknow (25/1) was second ahead of 2014 winner and 7/1 favourite Shotgun Paddy in third. Houblon Des Obeaux (14/1) kept on from the rear to snatch fourth place, just ahead of Knockanrawley and the tiring Rigadin de Beauchene.
Having proven himself already over the fences, the Randox Health Grand National looks an obvious target for the winner.
Fox said: "The plan was to be a bit handier, but in those big fields he's a bit slow away from the start.
"He jumps so well and he's just jumped his way into it. We decided to put the tongue-tie on him and I think it's made a big difference. I think the Grand National is made for him."
Bookmakers Sky Bet installed One For Arthur at 33/1 in their market for that race.
Russell, having her first winner at Warwick, said: "He's some horse, he really is. I'm so delighted and he jumped super.
"I'm delighted for Derek. He's such a great help in the yard and such a great horseman, he deserves all the credit. This was his first ride here, but he is a very level-headed jockey and he didn't panic when things didn't go right at the start.
"He was unfortunate in the Becher Chase. He got shuffled back that day, ended up out the back and stayed on for fifth place.
"When he got hampered at the second fence, I thought the same was going to happen again, but Derek took his time and let him get back in the race.
"If he goes up in the handicap, he might go for the Grand National. If not, he's definitely a National horse next year. He's got to be an Aintree horse.
"Many of my horses tend to like heavy ground, but he has run well on good to soft, so that would be fine."
Fox was banned for two days (January 28 and 29) for using his whip in an incorrect place.
Runner-up Goodtoknow was one of three in the race for trainer Kerry Lee along with Mountainous (seventh) and last year's winner Russe Blanc (ninth).
"I'm absolutely delighted (with Goodtoknow) and he proved he gets the trip," said Lee. "We really have the Grand National in our sights for him, but we need to improve to get up the handicap for that.
"He was jumping a little to the right so I might take him to Sandown. The old Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup) at the end of the season might be right up his street."
Noel Fehily was taken to hospital for checks on his shoulder after his nasty early fall from Kaki De La Pree.
He got to his feet, albeit looking a little shaken with a cut to his nose, but was replaced in the final race by Sean Bowen.
Clerk of the course Jane Hedley said: "Noel has gone to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on a suspected shoulder injury."
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