Thursday 25 May 2017

Aintree star was trained in Scotland, bred in Ireland

Breeder John Dwan with One for Arthur’s mother Nonnetia in Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore
Breeder John Dwan with One for Arthur’s mother Nonnetia in Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore

Ryan Nugent

The Grand National winning horse may have been trained in the Scottish lowlands, but its origins were masterminded in Kilkenny.

While the Scots celebrated only a second success in the illustrious race, when One For Arthur galloped across the finish line, Kilkenny breeder John Dwan could rightfully bask in the glory of a champion he helped create.

One For Arthur is the offspring of Nonnetia, a mare he still keeps at his stud in Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny.

Mr Dwan, who works as a commercial breeder, was the toast of the town following the win.

And victory wasn't just pot luck, he'd always fancied his chances.

Being in the game over 30 years since he was a boy, Mr Dwan knows when he's on to something good.

Grand National winner One For Arthur with Lucinda Russell. Photo: PA
Grand National winner One For Arthur with Lucinda Russell. Photo: PA

He's had plenty of winners of course over the years - but nothing of this international magnitude.

"To breed a winner of a Grand National is a once in a lifetime kind of thing, so we're over the moon about it," he said.

"There was a lot of celebrating locally and a lot of good wishes over the past couple of days.

"The horse had good form and its trainer had its programme all mapped out, but it's a complete lottery in a Grand National," he added.

Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell deservedly took the plaudits for the 16/1 winner at Aintree.

It began in 2006 when after seeing One For Arthur's dam, Nonnetia, race to victory in France, Mr Dwan bought the horse with the intention of bringing her back to Ireland for breeding at his Ballyreddin Stud.

He paired her with a sire named Milan who stands at the Grange Stud in Fermoy, Co Cork, because he "thought they'd work well".

Given the commercial industry that is horse-breeding, he also saw an opportunity from the potential of this horse.

"You're trying to breed to the best stallions that are on offer at that particular time," he said.

"In my mind, this horse represented good value," he added.

Commercial value is the name of the game for Irish breeders, and not being in the direct spotlight following a momentous victory is just one of effects of that, according to Mr Dwan.

"Again, with us being a commercial breeding operation, a lot of our horses are sold to purchaser in Scotland and all over the UK," he explained.

"The trainer would rightly so get most of the publicity because with most Irish breeders the purpose is to sell," he added.

He may be operating a serious business with in excess of 50 animals at his stud, but days like Saturday don't come along too often.

And he's certainly made sure to soak up the moment with friends and family in Kilkenny.

Irish Independent

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