Two golf widows did exactly that – and they revelled in the glory yesterday as One For Arthur triumphed in a seriously competitive contest over the famous fences of Aintree.
Winning in style on the weekend of the US Masters golf tournament can only have added a little extra frisson of pleasure.
So did cheering home only the second ever horse trained in Scotland to win the great race that stops the nation. Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson happily call themselves the ‘Two Golf Widows’.
They went to school together, met up again later in life and are now for ever twinned in the annals of Grand National history.
They collected the winner’s trophy with wide smiles and designer sunglasses – and not a driver or putter in sight.
One For Arthur was a 14/1 shot to win
“My husband plays golf 50 weekends a year and we wanted something to do,” said Deborah.
“We had ponies as youngsters and always loved racing. The name is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a lot of fun.” Cue Belinda, who interjected: “Let’s be honest – we were at Kelso races and had drunk a lot of gin when the idea came up.”
Yesterday they were sipping champagne as they reflected on where the bright idea three and a half years ago had taken them.
“We bought the horse at Cheltenham sales and we thought he would be a fabulous jumper,” added Deborah.
“The dream was just to have a runner in the National. To win it… I’m lost for words.”
One For Arthur timed his sprint to the finish line to perfection
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And yes, if you’re wondering, their partners Fraser and Colin were at Aintree yesterday rather than on the golf course.
One For Arthur was among the favourites at 14-1, and was always running well.
But then so were many other horses in a wonderfully open contest on a day of rare sunshine.
For most of the race it was a pair from the stable of Ryanair owner Michael O'Leary who led the field.
Roi Des Fracs and Rogue Angel took it in turns at the front, dealing admirabley with the perils of Becher's Brook, Valentines and The Chair.
Could they win from the front? It was too much to ask in the 20 degrees heat, and four fences from home the running was taken up by Blaklion, who had started as the 8-1 favourite.
Grand National runners 2017
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Another fancied contender, Definitly Red, had pulled up before Valentines on the first circuit. There had been a sentimental notion he could win on the 40th anniversary of Red Rum's historic third victory – but this was no red letter day at the races.
The hopes of Blaklion were short-lived. One For Arthur was galloping stronger than all the rest and took the lead with a huge leap at the final fence.
There was no hope that anything could catch him on the long run to home, where more than a few Grand National dreams have perished. The margin of triumph was four and a half lengths. It was never in doubt.
For jockey Derek Fox it was victory in his first ever ride in the National. Last month he broke his right collarbone and left wrist in a heavy fall, the eternal dangers of life in the saddle.
Jockey Derek Fox (Middle) and trainer Lucinda Russell celebrate the win
The 25-year-old only returned to racing on Wednesday but he was pitch perfect in his handling of One For Arthur. Trainer Lucinda Russell, based in Fife and the partner of former champion jockey Peter Scudamore, was certain of victory long before many others as she watched from the stands.
She said: “Before the Melling Road, I turned to the owners and shouted, ‘We’re going to win the National!’ With a horse like that and a jockey like that, what could be better? It was a bold call but it was right.”
Cause of Causes ran on to be second at 16-1, while Saint Are was third at 25- 1. Blaklion was a gallant fourth.
There were 19 finishers out of the 40 starters and the Aintree organisers reported that all the horses had come home safely.
That was a relief all round on one of the hottest days on which the Grand National has been run.