Saint to Burrow 80-year National hoodoo

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As Mark Twain infamously stated in his 1907 book Chapters from My Autobiography, ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. The most damning of Grand National statistics is that no seven-year-old has won the National since 1940. Records however are there to be broken.

What one must remember is that seven-year-olds sparingly run in the Grand National. Indeed in each of the last two years there has been just one seven-year-old involved and neither was remotely fancied.

In 2017 when three ran they were all at odds of 33/1 or greater. Statistics are one thing; ability is another.

In Burrows Saint this year, we have a seven-year-old of altogether different capabilities. This Grade-One placed hurdler and Grade Three winning novice chaser won last year’s Irish Grand National, leading home a 1-2-3 for perennial Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins.

He buried one National hoodoo there in becoming the first six-year-old winner of the race since 1970 and just the third since World War II.

He could very easily end another lengthy wait in April by striking for the seven-year-olds.

Willie Mullins has only won the National once with 2005 scorer Hedgehunter but Rathvinden finished third last year and Pleasant Company second the year before.

The master of Closutton is knocking loudly at the door again and in Burrows Saint he looks to have an ideal candidate in all bar age.

Mullins has made clear that Burrows Saint is being aimed at Aintree and like last year’s winner Tiger Roll, he recently won over hurdles at Punchestown. Beating more fancied stablemates Saglawy and Stratum as well as former Gold Cup winner Sizing John, he enhanced his already strong claims in a powerful display of galloping from the front under Rachael Blackmore.

The trainer said afterwards, ‘Rachael did what I asked her to on Burrows Saint. She jumped out and galloped and the horse did it well. He loves jumping.’

Jumping and staying, the two most important National attributes are the two most pertinent for Burrows Saint.

His only defeat at 3m plus was in the Grade One Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris last May. Finishing fifth in the French Gold Cup equivalent for a six-year-old with just 16 career starts was a more than credible effort considering that no British or Irish-trained runner has ever won the 3m6f contest.

As things stand, Burrows Saint is the general second favourite although Coral and William Hill are offering generous odds of 20/1* for the Rich Ricci owned French bred.

He would currently receive 16lb from Tiger Roll the favourite and history chasing dual champion. A racing weight of around 10st 10lbs would be ideal for the strongly built seven-year-old and, at the odds, he represents better value than Tiger Roll, who is around about a third of his price.

*Odds subject to change.

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