One For Arthur and Blaklion are ready to hit big time
Few present at the November 2013 point-to-point at Lingstown in County Wexford could have envisaged the future high-profile horses they were viewing when One For Arthur won a four-year-old maiden in which Blaklion finished third.
Both horses are now major contenders for tomorrow's Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
Blaklion was representing the famed Wilson Dennison and Colin McKeever Templepatrick academy on that occasion. He has since landed the 2016 RSA Chase for Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Noel Fehily will take the reins as the stable bids to add to their Earth Summit and Bindaree gains in jump racing's most famous prize.
Hopes are high for One For Arthur, too. Lucinda Russell's charge is attempting to become the second Scottish-trained winner of the race after Rubstic's win for trainer John Leadbetter and jockey Maurice Barnes in 1979.
One For Arthur arrives for his biggest assignment on the back of a three-mile-five-furlong Betfred Classic Chase win at Warwick in January, and his former point-to-point handler Liam Kenny thinks he has every chance.
The County Wexford-based trainer said: "He was a bit slow starting and he took a few runs before he won for me. He was unlucky, though, as he made an awful mistake the first day he ran up in Largy. He was second after that in Tattersalls beside Fairyhouse racecourse.
"Then he finished third at Ballinaboola before winning at Killinick (Lingstown). He was always a lovely horse - he has a real good step to him. From that you'd say he's the type of horse for good ground.
"He seemed to have lots of pace when we had him and he was a good horse to jump. The ground the day he won was very good - it was fast. We were even considering not running him on the day but we let him take his chance in the end."
Kenny has produced some nice horses through the point-to-point fields and he explained: "We bought One For Arthur at the Derby Sale. Paddy Redmond owned him then. He of course had great times in the past with Big Zeb.
"Paddy buys and sells a few horses every year. I sort of do that for him.
"We sold that fella at Cheltenham (Brightwells Sale) and though I haven't taken much notice of how he's fared since, I'll definitely be tuning in on Saturday and hoping to see him win.
"I did see him run in the Becher Chase. He seemed to get into a good bit of hassle early in play there. He finished off his race so well then though, and if he'd been handier then I think he'd have won."
As a trainer in his own right Kenny is planning on being represented at Punchestown next month by maiden hurdler A Rated.
He said: "One that Paddy held on to and is still with me is A Rated. We've been a bit disappointed with him. What he needs is a fence but he'll probably go in another hurdle at the Punchestown festival. He's a fabulous horse to 'leap' as he showed when winning in Lingstown."