1st (30) Silver Birch 33-1
Silver Birch, who had promised so much earlier in his career, finally
realised that promise to win the John Smith’s Grand National in
a thrilling finish.
“We only got the horse a year ago, and sweetened him up with some
cross country chases,” said Elliott, who was covered by almost
as much water as his horse in the celebrations afterwards.
The trainer, winning the John Smith’s Grand National only a year
after getting his full training licence, was confident that once the
horse had mastered Barry Geraghty’s horse Slim Pickings that Silver
Birch would win.
“If he jumped the last two then I thought we had it. We struggle
enough in this game and I’m certainly going to celebrate tonight,” he
Brian Walsh, the owner and at just 26 also the youngest in the race,
immediately paid credit to his trainer. “He’s done a heck
of a job to get this horse ready,” he said.
Walsh also paid credit to Michael Donohoe of the Irish BBA who bought the horse for him for just £20,000 at the Doncaster Sales last year. Donohoe explained: “They were looking for a hunter chaser to have a bit of fun with and he had a bit of leg when we bought him, but this...this is a fairytale.”
Winning Trainer: Gordon Elliott Age: 29 Based: Capranny, Trim, Co Meath, Ireland Background: Former point-to-point ride. Started out at Tony Martin’s Meath stables. Moved to Martin Pipe in 2002 and rode one winner from six amateur rides. Began training in 2006 at Capranny Stables, owned by Barry Callaghan, head of the Dun Doire Syndicate. Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Grand National (2007 Silver Birch) Wins in Britain this season: 4
Winning Jockey: Robert Power Age: 25 Background: Robert Power is the son of legendary Irish showjumper and trainer Con Power, who is regarded as the top man in Ireland to deal with horses who find it difficult to learn to jump properly. A silver medallist at the European Junior Showjumping Championships in 2000, Power made the switch to jump racing the following year. First winner as a professional came on the Paddy Mullins-trained Bob What at Leopardstown in February, 2002. He was honoured at the 2004 Irish Jump Racing Awards as the leading claiming rider Aintree Festival Wins: John Smith’s Grand National (2007 Silver Birch) Other Big Race Wins Include: John Smiths Midlands Grand National (2003 Intelligent), Galway Plate (2003 Nearly A Moose) Wins in Ireland (2001/02-2005/6): 8; 12; 28; 35; 25 Wins in Ireland this season: 15 Wins in Britain (2002/03-2005/06): 1; 0; 0; 0 Wins in Britain in this season: 2
THE JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL WINNING JOCKEY
Robbie Power, the winning jockey on Silver Birch, said: “Unbelievable, what a ride I got all the way.
“He jumped and travelled great. It does not get better than this.
I should retire now.
“I looked around turning for home and he was going the best. Credit to Gordon Elliott - the trainer), he has done some job to get this horse ready.
“Gordon was worried that Silver Birch wouldn't be able to lay-up
early on, but it meant I was able to keep out of trouble.
"Once I got to the front he did nothing. Gordon picked him up for nothing (20,000 guineas) and he looks a bargain now."
THE JOHN SMITH’S GRAND NATIONAL WINNING OWNER
Brian Walsh, the winning owner, said: “Gordon (Elliott) advised
me to try for Silver Birch, and, together with Mick Donohoe of the BBA,
I went to Doncaster Sales last May and managed to pick him up for 20,000gns.
"I probably had only one more bid in me, but, though Silver Birch
looked A1 and was surprisingly cheap for a horse who had already won
a Welsh National and a Becher Chase, when he walked off the box at Troytown
he was in a right old state.
"Michael Sadler rang me to tell me that he was lame here and lame
there and that, in his opinion, I had two choices; either we could inject
his tendons and leave him standing in his box for a month or give him
a year off.
"We decided on the injections, and he was grand after a month and
has never given us a bother since.
"We will be celebrating in Gregory's in Kilcock (Co Kildare) when
we get home, and I've got a good lump of cash to collect, too. I had
a decent bet on Silver Birch at 66-1, and, having won plenty at Cheltenham,
it has been a good spring.
"I come from a farming family, but nowadays I concentrate on the
horses and we have 12 in training.
"I also have the Rheindross Stud at Kilcock, which keeps me busy
as we have 20 broodmares there, including two in foal to Galileo and
Johannesburg, though my first love is definitely jumping.
"We also have a decent broodmare prospect in Rhacophorus, who won the Aintree bumper last season. I bought her later that month for £220,000 at Brightwells Auction at Cheltenham, and she might run at Punchestown at the end of the month."
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