Horse racing: A special Grand National win for three women and one jockey

Jockey Derek Fox spurred One For Arthur to come to life over the final two fences of the Grand National at Aintree, winning by 41/2 lengths. He was cleared to ride just last Monday after recovering from an accident last month.
Jockey Derek Fox spurred One For Arthur to come to life over the final two fences of the Grand National at Aintree, winning by 41/2 lengths. He was cleared to ride just last Monday after recovering from an accident last month.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Lucinda Russell joined a distinguished group of female trainers by winning the 170th running of the Grand National with One For Arthur at Aintree on Saturday.

It was the first Scottish-trained winner for 38 years and the fourth trained by a woman after Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and, most recently, Sue Smith.

"I never thought I would be in their exalted company," she said.

To add to the female influence on the world's toughest and most famous steeplechase, the eight-year- old chaser is owned by the "Two Golf Widows", Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson, who first met at pony club.

One For Arthur was ridden to a 41/2-length victory by Derek Fox, who had only been passed fit to ride on Monday after breaking a wrist and a collarbone in a fall almost exactly a month ago.

  • Three other women with landmark wins in the 'Sport of Kings'

  • JENNY PITMAN (1983 GRAND NATIONAL)

    Formidable character whose then husband jockey Richard had been denied victory in the Grand National when Red Rum had passed long-time leader Crisp in the 1973 "renewal".

    Having become a trainer in 1975, she succeeded where Richard failed in winning the race with Corbiere in 1983. Not bad for a horse she described as "having a big a*** like a carthorse".

    She went on to win another Grand National with Royal Athlete in 1995.

    MICHELLE PAYNE (2015 MELBOURNE CUP)

    One of 10 children brought up by their father after their mother died in a car crash, she said from an early age she would ride the winner of the "race that stops a nation". She had to wait till 2015 to realise her dream as she rode the 100-1 outsider Prince of Penzance to glory, by coincidence wearing the colours - purple, white and green - of the suffragette movement.

    She delivered a no-holds barred speech: "It's such a chauvinistic sport, a lot of the owners wanted to kick me off. Everyone else can get stuffed (who) think women aren't good enough."

    JULIE KRONE (1993 BELMONT STAKES)

    The American jockey succeeded on her fourth attempt to win one of the Triple Crown races, the 1993 running of the Belmont Stakes with Colonial Affair.

    Krone, then 29, did not wish to make anything of her landmark win: "I don't think the question has to be genderised."

    She would go on and become the first woman to win a Breeder's Cup race in 2003.

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The triumph completed an extraordinary turnaround in the fortunes of the Irishman, who was handed a 21-month ban for drink driving two years ago, and brought Russell the biggest win of her 22-year training career.

"This is a fairy tale but for excellent medical care I wouldn't have made it," said Fox, 24. "This is unbelievable, he was so courageous. Some of us will never be a champion jockey but this is a day when the likes of me can strike against the big boys."

Russell's long-time partner and assistant trainer, Peter Scudamore, was champion jockey eight times but, famously, never managed to emulate his father, Michael, by winning the National.

For the first half of the race, One for Arthur was safely tucked away in the middle of the pack until Fox drove the 14-1 winner over the last two fences to move smoothly clear of the field and take the £561,000 (S$975,000) first prize.

The winner was chased home by Cause Of Causes with Saint Are back in third.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'A special one for 3 women & jockey'. Print Edition | Subscribe