by JOHN ANDERSON ONE for Arthur has been ruled out of the 2018 Grand National, guaranteeing a new hero at Aintree. The horse produced a fine performance to win the prestigious race, becoming only the second Scottish-trained winner in the history of the contest. However, the eight-year-old has suffered a tendon injury in his right fore, forcing trainer Lucinda Russell to rule One For Arthur out of next year’s contest.
The field is now clear for a number of talented horses to bid for the crown. Therefore it will be worth tracking Rupert Bell’s horse racing tips to get a feel for the competitors before the meet in April.
One of the horses that will aim to capitalise on One For Arthur’s absence will be Minella Rocco. The seven-year-old did not compete in the National in April.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge began his career in 2015 with back-to-back victories with AP McCoy in the saddle. However, he took a step back with Barry Geraghty on board, including being pulled up for the first time in his career at Cheltenham at the end of his rookie campaign.
The seven-year-old made his breakthrough at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup. He was not considered the favourite for the meet but delivered with a brilliant performance to win. He made a steady start with Derek O’Connor on board but gradually made his way through the field. Three fences from the end, he made his charge for the lead and was able to pull away down the stretch, beating Native River by one-and-three-quarter lengths.
Gold Cup excellence
The bay gelding did not race for seven months after his triumph but returned to action on the site of his victory at Cheltenham, only to place in third in a handicap chase despite being made favourite. Minella Rocco again was the leading contender for his next outing at Aintree in December 2016. However, as he closed in on Many Clouds in the final stages he fell, allowing his rival to secure the victory.
At the start of the 2017, Minella Rocco had a chance to kickstart his season with a win in the Irish Gold Cup. The bay gelding had arguably the worst race of his career as he unseated Aidan Coleman as he approached the fifth fence. He bounced back with a strong performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, although it was still not good enough to oust Sizing John from the winner’s circle. That was his last action as Jonjo O’Neill pulled his charge from the Grand National and the horse has not competed since.
The talent is there with Minella Rocco, but he needs to produce a stronger level of consistency to challenge for the Grand National next April. The gelding will need a good start to the new campaign to ensure that he gets up to speed with limited time to find his form before the race in April.