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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Kinross turns out in force to pay homage to Arthur the great

Ben Hutton mingles with the happiest team in racing

One For Arthur and Lucinda Russell were laughing loudest and longest at the trainer's Kinross yard the morning after their magnificent Grand National victory
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The people of Kinross are out in their droves at Lucinda Russell's Arlary House yard on Sunday to see Grand National hero One For Arthur parade in the Scottish sunshine.

Among them is regular work-rider Erin Walker, who was unable to go to Aintree. Husband Barry was on duty as a fireman, so she was looking after their children, 11-year-old Emily and one-year-old Logan.

Along with other family members they watched Derek Fox's superb stalking ride at home in Abernethy, and Walker says: "We were really nervous, but when he won there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Emily was screaming on with us and Logan was clapping because we were clapping.

"It was hard to pick him out for the first circuit, but Derek was awesome. He's so patient and knows how to ride that horse."

Of the celebrations on Saturday night, Walker adds: "The whole yard went to the Thistle in Milnathort, so there were a few sore heads this morning."

Celebrations in Liverpool are also lively. The much-publicised golfers who were the inspiration for the owners' Two Golf Widows moniker are Colin Dempster and Fraser McClung, and Dempster says: "We walked into the Malmaison Hotel in Liverpool and Derek came in with us with the trophy and got a standing ovation. I think we drank most of the champagne in Liverpool last night."

"And most people in Liverpool have a had a photo with the trophy," adds McClung.

Russell's evening exploits were a touch less adventurous. "We had a few drinks with the owners and left, drove home, watched the replay and went to bed, which wasn't really very exciting," she reports.

With the shy star of the show being coaxed to put his head out of the box for photographers tempted by some hay in the Grand National trophy, the beaming faces of staff members in their new black Edinburgh Gin jackets are dotted around the yard.

The word 'team' is heard almost as much as 'Arthur' (as everyone calls him), and Russell stresses how important that ethos is, saying: "I'm getting all this publicity and I've got a nice new jacket that says winning trainer on it.

"But it's not about me, it's about all the staff here today; they're the ones who look after these horses and do all the hard work. We've got some fantastic people here."

Deborah Thomson, one of the Two Golf Widows, expresses a similar sentiment.

Belinda McClung (left) and Deborah Thomson celebrate with their Aintree hero

"We wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for Lucinda, and Scu, and the whole team and their hard work and dedication,” she says. “We've really got them to thank, they're a fabulous team."

"It's brilliant here, we love it," adds fellow owner Belinda McClung.

Walker also stresses the importance of the Arlary team, saying "everybody here has had a part in it", and Russell's partner Peter Scudamore concurs, saying: "The team ethic in this yard is very strong."

Scudamore had an interest in two runners in the National, with son Tom riding sixth-placed Vieux Lion Rouge, and there is an intriguing revelation about where his loyalties lay.

"As much as I love Arthur, I haven't spent thousands of pounds on him in school fees, so I was watching Thomas,” he admits.

“As they came from the Canal Turn I thought Thomas was going to win, and then suddenly it changed and my loyalties changed immediately! I did keep flicking back to make sure he jumped the last though."

Peter Scudamore, groom Jaimie Duff and Lucinda Russell take a stroll with One For Arthur

Everyone seems to have backed Arthur, including Richard and Tracy Lewis from Kinross, who have come along with their children James and Ruby.

Richard says: "We don't usually have a bet but we heard Arthur was running, so we put a bet on, and today we just wanted to come up and be part of it."

Tracy adds: "There's been quite a lot of excitement from the kids this morning about seeing Arthur."

Down the row from Arthur's box, Peter Dunn and Moira Hunter from Cowdenbeath are giving Sky Khan a pat. Dunn works as a cleaner at Ladbrokes in Cowdenbeath, and says: "I went in last night and they'd taken some thumping."

There's nothing like a Grand National winner for attracting a crowd

As the media and Arthur's fans and beneficiaries drift away, Scudamore is concocting gin cocktails in the wooden cabin, while amid the weekend's madness there has been time to remember a much-missed member of Russell's team.

Next to the cabin there is a tree planted in memory of Campbell Gillies, the stable's hugely promising young jockey who died in a holiday accident in 2012.

Russell says: "Of course our thoughts go back to Campbell and his family, and it's great that his sister Rita still works for us. I think he'd be very proud of us."

Randox Health Grand National result and analysis

The whole yard went to the Thistle in Milnathort, so there were a few sore heads this morning

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