In 2007 Silver Birch made sure that Irish eyes were smiling, giving the Emerald Isle the sixth winner in nine years! Any punters lucky enough to have backed Gordon Elliot’s ten year old were rewarded with odds of 33/1!
Silver Birch was very much a “turn up for the books”, the trainer Elliot had not yet had a winner in his native Ireland, and the owner (Brian Walsh), jockey (Robbie Power) and the trainer himself were all in their twenties.
Silver Birch had only been brought eleven months before the National and was purchased primarily to enter cross country races.
Silver Birch had previously been a top handicapper, and had been looked after by champion trainer Paul Nicholls who had enjoyed some good success with him, notably a Beecher Chase victory. Based on that performance it was Ante Post second favourite in 2005, before being withdrawn with an injured leg. In 2006’s National he was priced 40/1 and after falling the owners decided to sell him. Brian Walsh picked Silver Birch up for a mere 20,000 guineas, a price which would prove to be a very shrewd investment!
In winning the 2007 Grand National Silver Birch raced fluently throughout (bar a slight mishap at the second Beechers), made its move three out and lead over the last. Ironically if the horse had stayed with Nicholls it wouldn’t have qualified for point-to-point racing for another year, a route down which he was eligible for in Ireland, and as such probably would have been handicapped too highly if not changing trainers.
Grand National bettors should take note that it is sometimes challenging as a leading trainer to get a horse “under the radar” and into the Grand National at a potentially winning handicap mark.
Starting Price: 33/1
Age: 10 years
Winning Distance: unknown
Owner: Brian Walsh
Jockey: Robbie Power
Weight Carried: 10st6lbs
3rd: Slim Pickings