Burrows Saint Now Targets Grand National After Punchestown Success
— David Betts (@davidbetts3213) 31 December 2019
Burrows Saint recorded his first win of the season with victory over hurdles at Punchestown on the final day’s racing of the decade where he was too strong for his rivals, coasting to a win after the last obstacle.
All the headlines before the race were about former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John, however, it was Willie Mullins’ talented six-year-old who showed his class and durability, making all at the Irish track.
Sizing John came down at the third flight from the finish but was unscathed and will be back another day, with the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown a likely target for Jessica Harrington’s runner.
Burrows Saint’s future is even brighter given his age and the list of options for his connections are plentiful, with the Randox Health Grand National likely to be at the very top.
Ridden by Rachel Blackmore at Punchestown, the pair controlled the pace of the race. After Sizing John exited the contest, Blackmore asked her horse to quicken and he was able to do that, with stablemates Saglawy, Sayo and Stratum chasing him home in that order to give Mullins a 1-2-3-4.
Bookmakers cut Burrows Saint for Aintree feature
The bookmakers have slashed Mullins’ gelding to as low as 12/1* (from 25/1) for the Grand National, with only the two-time winner and defending champion Tiger Roll ahead of him in the ante-post market at 5/1*.
If the money continues to fall on Burrows Saint from now until Aintree, where there is a strong possibility of that happening given his connections, the Irish horse could line up as a single digit runner.
Mullins has yet to reveal the plans for his horse for the rest of the season. He may wait until the Grand National weights are officially released in February to cement them out. His runner does have an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March though, where he is a 33/1* shot for the Blue Riband event of the Festival.
Irish Grand National victory proves his stamina
Burrows Saint has been talked about as being an Aintree contender ever since he won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse last April. Mullins’ horse was well backed for that contest before going off as the 6/1 favourite.
The son of Saint Des Saints justified that strong market support behind him as he prevailed by just under two lengths to give Mullins his first win in the prestigious Irish contest. He also made up for the disappointment the Irishman suffered when he lost out in the race in a photo-finish with Isleofhopendreams 12 months earlier.
Given how well he won the contest, the 2020 Grand National at Aintree became an immediate target for Burrows Saint. He looks to have the stamina to handle the 4m2½f race on Merseyside, while he may not be crippled too much by the handicapper given he does not have too many miles on the clock.
Mullins bidding for second Grand National success
Mullins has had a fantastic career in National Hunt racing with 65 winners at the Cheltenham Festival. He has prevailed just once in the Grand National though, and that was when Hedgehunter came out on top in 2005.
If successful in April, Burrows Saint would be the youngest winner of the race since 1940 when Bogskar won the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Although seven-year-olds don’t have a great record in the National, he does have the experience of 17 races under his belt over obstacles. Therefore, the Irish horse will head to Aintree with a great chance of adding his name onto the roll of honour.
*Odds subject to change.