CONGRATULATIONS to Aisling Dwan, daughter of John and Patricia Dwan of Ballyreddin Stud, Bennettsbridge, Co Kilkenny on two counts.
Today is her 17th birthday and last weekend she rode former 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur as he made his showing debut a winning one, taking the Racehorse to Riding Horse class at Sceilig Equestrian, and the pair then went on to win the Riding Horse Championship.
There is a special twist to the win as One For Arthur is a homebred out of the Dwan’s mare Nonnetia and so the 13-year-old retired chaser is coming home to his roots. There could be another winner from the family as John consigns One For Arthur’s full-sister at Arqana at the end of the month, who looks like she could be competitive being a “nice sharp individual”.
Aisling, who competes and events her gorgeous grey gelding MJ, was naturally apprehensive as to how the 17hh One For Arthur would handle the new discipline after he arrived home in May.
“He was absolutely fine. He’s such a big horse and apart from the noise and crowds at the shows, I didn’t know if he could handle what was required of him in the class. We took him to a couple of local rallies where he wasn’t at all bothered and behaved very well. Then at Sceilig, he did the trot, canter and gallop for me and the riding judge perfectly. It was great, not a bother on him. At home he is completely chilled, whether in the stable or out in the field.”
Her father John continues: “These Racehorse to Riding classes are getting more and more popular and it’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned. To see a sound ex-racecourse like One For Arthur have a crack at another career and enjoy himself can only be good.
“One For Arthur was trained by Lucinda Russell to win the 2017 Grand National and did really well to finish sixth in the race in 2019. He is owned by two very sporting ladies, Belinda McClung and Deborah Thomson, who race horses under the partnership of Two Golf Widows.
“When One For Arthur was retired from racing he returned to Lucinda’s place, near to the two ladies who own him. They had a mare they were sending to Walk In The Park and Lucinda asked me if I could help out by taking charge of the covering which I did.
“That renewed the connection. The two ladies are huge supporters of the Racehorse to Riding classes so that set in motion the idea of ‘Arthur’ having a go with Aisling riding and here we are!
“Jaimie Duff had been looking after him through his racing career and she filled us in on what he likes.”
Next stop is the Racehorse to Riding class at Gorey Show.
“Our aim is to get ‘Arthur’ to the championship class at the Dublin Horse Show,” John concluded.
That would be a special day for all concerned and nearly as nerve wracking for all connections as taking on the Grand National fences at Aintree.