Grand National stalwart heads to Royal Windsor in new career

Aintree stalwart Saint Are will head to Royal Windsor Horse Show this week (8 to 12 May) hot off the back of his first affiliated success.

“Arnie”, who ran in five Grand Nationals and is owned by the Are Saint syndicate, retired from racing in 2018 and was turned away for a holiday before joining Rebecca Court and Justine Armstrong-Small’s yard last summer.

After winning his first showing rosette — a red one — at an unaffiliated event at Brook Farm in February, Arnie made his affiliated debut at Keysoe on 29 April.

He finished fourth in the novice riding horse class with Justine, before winning the Jockey Club novice Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) class and standing RoR champion later that day with Rebecca.

Rebecca said he “took the whole day in his stride”.

“Since Brook Farm he has been continuing his schooling and groundwork, lots of hacking still and some ride judge practice for his first affiliated show,” she told H&H.

“We’ve done lots of practice riding with others in the school and standing still, which is often quite hard for an ex-racehorse, but he’s so bright he’s quickly learnt what to do.”

She added producer Will Morton will lead him in-hand in the RoR class at Windsor as they want to give the horse experience of that sort of environment, without rushing him to do a ridden class.

“He has been over to sit on him and practise the in-hand and said he was phenomenal to sit on — he has such power and elevation,” said Rebecca.

“We asked Will to lead him at Windsor as he’s very experienced running horses in hand, having competed in the Cuddy at Horse of the Year Show, and can keep up running alongside him to keep up with Arnie’s big free-moving trot!”

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The 13-year-old, trained by Tim Vaughan and most recently by Tom George, was an Aintree specialist with 13 starts at the track and wins in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle in 2011 and the John Smith’s Handicap Chase over the Mildmay course the following year.

Arnie was runner-up to Many Clouds in the 2015 Grand National and third behind One For Arthur and Cause Of Causes in 2017.

His final start came in the big race in 2018, where he was brought down at the Chair.

After his holiday, Rebecca and Justine have taken his re-education “very gradually” to give him time to adjust and fill out his 17hh frame.

“We aren’t in any rush with him and he will get all the time he needs,” said Rebecca earlier this year.

The RoR in-hand class is scheduled for 1.30pm on Wednesday (8 May) in the Adelaide arena.

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