Sussex horse is Scottish National contender

Fruity O'Rooney, running in the Scottish National on April 21
Fruity O'Rooney, running in the Scottish National on April 21

A LOWER Beeding-trained racehorse is one of the favourites to take glory at this weekend’s Scottish Grand National.

Fruity O’Rooney, owned by the Sussex-based Heart of the South Racing group, and trained at Cisswood Stables in Lower Beeding, is currently 12/1 to win the showpiece event at Ayr. And after a year in which the nine year old has tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival and has barely been out of the winner’s enclosure, his owners believes he has a real chance of scooping some of the £180,000 prize fund.

Eloise Penny, from Heart of the South Racing, enthused: “We love this little horse, this is his biggest race and to say we are excited is an understatement.

“He has such a big heart and a never say die attitude, he will battle right to the end. In his last 11 starts over fences he has only been out of the frame once, he is extremely consistent.”

Fruity, named after a dream about an Irish pub, has attracted a cult following - especially among Manchester United fans - which has reached Australia.

The Scottish National is one of the richest steeplechases in the world, and like the Grand National at Aintree, is run over four miles, 110 yards. Fruity’s biggest win to date was at Kempton Park in the famous Christmas meeting which features the King George VI Chase - he was also second in the JLT Specialty Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

A good showing, with Jamie Moore in the saddle on Saturday, could earn Fruity O’Rooney a crack at the daunting fences of the Grand National, but his owners remain cautious after the deaths of favourite Synchronised and According to Pete in this year’s race.

Eloise added: “If he can stay four miles, we would certainly not rule it out next year.

“The owners love this horse and his safety is paramount. If we were to consider it we would build National fences at home for him. They might consider going to the Beechers Chase first.”