Secrets of the £17,000 horse that won the Grand National

Secrets of the £17,000 horse that was on the money! Trainer Lucinda Russell knew Corach Rambler had what it took to win the Grand National… and meet the 13 PEOPLE it takes to train the Aintree champion

  • Corach Rambler won the Grand National for trainer Lucinda Russell on Saturday 
  • Russell lifted the lid on her winning charge and its backstory earlier this week
  • Meet the 13 people it took to turn Corach Rambler into an Aintree champion

Corach Rambler was a superb winner of the Grand National for trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox on Saturday.

Successful at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, the nine-year-old was kept out of trouble throughout after starting as the 8-1 favourite, in a race that was delayed by around 15 minutes after protestors from Animal Rising got on to the track.

He jumped into the lead over the last and pulled away when passing the elbow, holding off a closing Vanillier with Gaillard Du Mesnil third and last year’s winner Noble Yeats running a gallant race under his big weight in fourth.

It was a second victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase for Russell and Fox, after One For Arthur in 2017.

Before their victory on Saturday, Russell spoke to Mail Sport’s Marcus Townend and lifted the lid on the horse that won the £1million steeplechase.

Derek Fox and trainer Lucinda Russell are all smiles after winning the 2023 Grand National

Trainer Lucinda Russell says winning the 2017 Grand National with One For Arthur changed her life and the trajectory of her Scottish stable.

Goodness knows what will happen if she can pull off a second victory with Corach Rambler in the £1million steeplechase this afternoon.

Plenty of people think that will happen. Corach Rambler is among the favourites for good reason. Winning at last month’s Cheltenham Festival for a second successive year showed him to be potentially the best handicapped horse in the line-up.

BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood allots weights to the Grand National entries in February. They can’t be changed. But if Greenwood could frame the weights now, after Corach Rambler’s latest win, the horse would be carrying an extra 10lb.

As a young, up-and-coming steeplechaser, the mount of Derek Fox ticks virtually every box for what you look for in a modern National contender.

Jockey Derek Fox rode One for Arthur (right) to win the National for Russell back in 2017 

Corach Rambler also fits the bill when it comes to another tradition with National winners. His is a bloody good story.


Almost everyone will say that their pet cat or dog is special. We feel that way about the animals we love, and I must admit Corach Rambler has a special place in my heart.

He is a unique, highly intelligent horse and it took him a while to settle into our stable. That is why I started riding him.

In those early days, he used to stand at the back of his box sulking and looking at the wall. So we switched him to a stable with an open window at the back so he could watch what was happening.

He got more confident.

He is like me before I get my coffee in the morning, very grumpy. Only with Corach it is carrots that perk him up.

I’ve needed help to tack him up because he would bite or kick me, but as soon as he is led out of his stable, I swear he seems to smile.

There are pictures of him pulling with me up the gallop with what looks like a grin on his face, and me hanging on to him!

When I’ve had a bad day, I have a chat with him. He has a positive effect on me. I hope it’s the same for him.

People inevitably ask how he compares with our 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur, who was a very classy horse at a distance of four miles and further. Corach is quicker. We will see if he has the same reserves of stamina.

When people asked me about Arthur going into the 2017 National, I would say ‘I can’t say he will win, but he is in the best form of his life going into the race with a good weight. If he doesn’t win this time, he will never win a Grand National.’

I feel something similar with Corach.

By Peter Scudamore

Corach Rambler cost only £17,000, chicken feed in racing terms, and Russell admits she only agreed to buy him to ‘indulge’ her partner and assistant trainer Peter Scudamore, who had taken a shine to him at the sales. 

Still, the successful purchase nearly never happened. Russell and Scudamore had to leave the sale and the bidding was left to Scudamore’s youngest son, Michael.

He forgot and, having gone for a cup of coffee, needed to make a mad dash back to the auction ring after taking a call from his motorway-bound father asking if he had secured Corach Rambler.

Luckily, Michael got there in time to lodge the successful bid, but Russell admits thoughts of Aintree and Cheltenham had never crossed her mind for the gelding. 

She hoped he might win a few small chases at the northern tracks.

What Corach Rambler has achieved for the seven-strong syndicate — including a 21-year-old Edinburgh University student — who paid £3,000 each has already far exceeded expectations.

Making the story even more colourful, Corach Rambler turned out to be a nervous horse who Scudamore adopted as his pet project, riding him most days. 

Russell, meanwhile, says she has had to play the part of equine psychologist as well as racehorse trainer.

She said: ‘People at the sales thought he was no good because he was very nervous. He has been quirky to train and we changed things to fit him.

‘Scu rides him and they sometimes go off on their own across the fields and do their own thing, with Scu talking to him all the time.

A lot of what Scu does is try to make Corach Rambler think he is in control when really he is not. We are trying to give him confidence.

‘The importance of mental health in humans is now recognised. Maybe it is the same with horses and we should recognise that, too.’

Russell, who has been training since 1999 and is on course for her best season, is not short of belief herself as a result of her Grand National win with One For Arthur, the last time a British-based horse won the Grand National.

She said: ‘Because we trained Arthur to win the Grand National, we know what it takes. That does give you confidence.

‘We like having runners in the Grand National because training staying chasers is our speciality. I am pretty sure Corach’s toughness and resilience will come through at Aintree and his winning run at Cheltenham last month has improved him again.’


When a racehorse lines up at the start, the only person the public see associated with it is its jockey.

But, in reality, the training of a racehorse is a huge team effort, everyone playing their part to ensure their contender is at his or her peak.

Trainers regularly say, ‘We are only as good as our team.’

Here we meet the team behind Corach Rambler.

1. Robert Hogarth (Work rider)

Rides exercise companions to Corach Rambler in his work-outs to ensure that the horse is tested in his training programme and is brought to peak fitness.

2. Morgan Cooper (Groom)

Corach Rambler is one of the horses allocated to her to care for every day. Jobs include grooming him and mucking out. She also helps tack him up so that he doesn’t bite his rider!

3. Jenna Baillie (Barn manager)

Long-standing member of the Russell staff who oversees a barn which contains 24 horses, Corach Rambler among them. Responsible for feeding the horses in her barn and her close contact with them means she is often the first person to spot any issues.

4. Vicky Haughton (Head groom)

Right-hand person to Russell, taking responsibility for many veterinary issues the stable faces to ensure the health of the horses is good.

5. Eugenio Cillan Garcia (Vet)

Lives close to the stable and visits twice a week to deal with any equine medical concerns. Also on call 24 hours a day for emergency scenarios. Inspects Corach Rambler once a week but he has been a sound horse who has needed very little veterinary intervention.

6. Carey Williams (Water treadmill manager)

Responsible for running the water treadmill, which helps build core strength. Corach Rambler has gone on it four times a week in the build-up to the National. Williams runs the equine physiotherapy centre which also has heat lamps and a vibration plate.

7. Lucinda Russell (Trainer)

The ultimate decision-maker. Has been training since 1999 and built up one of the country’s most successful Jumps stables. Co-ordinates the training of Corach Rambler and liaises with the seven-strong syndicate who own the gelding.

8. Peter Scudamore (Assistant trainer)

The eight-time champion jump jockey, who is also Russell’s partner, assists in all aspects of the stable and has been closely associated with Corach Rambler since he was bought, riding him most days in his morning exercise and doing much of his serious work.

9. Lori Walsh (Work rider)

Experienced rider who deputises for Scudamore when he is absent and when Corach Rambler has his more serious work-outs.

10. Cameron Wadge (Assistant trainer)

Oversees the horse’s work and is also responsible for the staff rotas to ensure the Russell stable runs smoothly.

11. Derek Fox (Jockey)

Rides Corach Rambler in some of his more serious work-outs and also rides him in schooling sessions when he practises his jumping. Has ridden him in all 12 of his races since he joined the Russell stable.

12. Gregg Crawford (Farrier)

Gives new shoes to Corach Rambler every four weeks and fitted him with his aluminium racing shoes on Tuesday in preparation for the Grand National.

13. Judy The Labrador (Team mascot and booster of morale!)

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