Today was a memorable day as Jaimie took One For Arthur, our Grand National hero of 2017 to his next home as he starts his active retirement with Stephanie and Charlie Robson. Steph is Olympic event rider Ian Stark's daughter, and she and her husband will introduce Arthur to eventing, hunting, and a top class family life as befits our champion. We are delighted that his owners, Belinda and Debs, have found this wonderful home for Arthur and look forward to following his progress. Of course, when he is looking for an easier life he will come back here, but until then we wish him and his new family all the very best of luck and enjoyment.
On the track, Prince Dundee provided us with our first winner of the new season when scoring at Hexham on Saturday. Still only an eight-year-old, Dundee has been through so much in his career to date, coming back from having two separate cannon stress fractures that necessitated six screws from Eugenio, and his win is just reward for the patience of his owners and for the hard work of the team at home. It was also a victory that meant jockey Stephen Mulqueen rode out his claim. A notable achievement, everyone here is so pleased for Stephen who is a big team player and who deserves all of his success.
Our other runner at Hexham, Vengeur de Guye, performed with credit to finish third in the 2m handicap chase, jumping and travelling well but not quite getting up the hill. He retains all his enthusiasm for racing at the age of 12 and will be back for more in the autumn. Down at Haydock, conditions weren’t soft enough for Grand Morning to show his best form, but he too will be back later in the year when we’ll look to place him to advantage around the likes of Ayr and Newcastle.
We have four runners on the flat tomorrow evening, with Book of Invasions, Aone Ally, and Ballyare heading to Wetherby and Red Missile off to Ayr. Book Of Invasions looks to face a stiff task in the novice stakes but it will help get him more up to speed with flat racing as we work towards handicaps as well as giving young Conner further experience. Aone Ally will relish the soft ground and looks to have been given a fair mark for his handicap debut, though he is still quite raw and may just need the experience of his first handicap. Ballyare has been admirably consistent through the winter and into the spring and looks to have another solid each-way chance in the 5½f handicap with the combination of trip and ground expected to play to his strengths, whilst over at Ayr, Red Missile might find the trip a little sharp but is in good order ahead of his run in the 10f handicap.