Silver Birch Grand National Wins
- 2007 - ridden by Robbie Power trained by Gordon Elliott
One-time favourite for the Grand National with a trainer in England, Silver Birch eventually found his way across the Irish Sea before he got his hands on the biggest prize in racing. A win that would catapult the careers of two Irishman, jockey Robbie Power and trainer Gordon Elliott, the victory of Silver Birch will be remembered by many.
Foaled on April 10th, 1997, this horse won the Welsh National when trained in England and the Grand National when trained in Ireland, amongst other wins in his career. Bought at the sales shrewdly, he was set up perfectly for the big day by Gordon Elliott in what would be his first Grand National success.
Favourite for the big one in 2005 until injury ruled him out, Silver Birch ran in his first Grand National in 2006 but fell at the chair. A year later, he had his moment, winning the race in 2007 in what was a thriller, with the first three home separated by just two lengths.
|2009||Fence 22 - Fell||-||11-00||Robbie Power||Gordon Elliott|
|2007||1||£399,140||10-6||Robbie Power||Gordon Elliott|
|2006||Fence 15 - Fell||-||10-12||Sam Thomas||Paul Nicholls|
Winner Of The 2007 Grand National
Going into the 2007 race, Silver Birch was amongst the outsiders and finished with an SP of 33/1. He hadn’t won since winning the 2004 Welsh National, which was more than two years before and had changed trainers since then. He came into the race on the back of running in Cross Country races and finished second in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival a month earlier.
It is fair to say in 2006, he was unlucky, rather than running poorly, and was hampered by others at the chair, which led to him falling. In terms of stamina, he had absolutely nothing to prove, all he needed to do was to find his best on the day, and that he certainly did.
This was a tough race, where you needed to stay strongly, just 12 managed to finish, so it certainly wasn’t an easy run around for Silver Birch. He needed everything at the end, too, as we saw an incredibly close finish. The winning distance was three quarters of a length, while the gap between 2nd and 3rd was just over a length, so the front three were separated by just two lengths.
At the time of this victory, Robbie Power was a young jockey looking to make his mark on the big stage, and this win certainly helped him do that. This was just his second ride in the race and was part of the reason he would go on to get better rides and associations with bigger yards, both in the UK & Ireland, during his career.
The same has to be said about Gordon Elliott. This was his first runner in the race, and he won at the first time of asking to really catapult his training career to the next level. We all know what has happened to Elliott since, and looking back, this was certainly one of the big days that showed the racing world what he was all about.
The One That Paul Nicholls Let Slip
If there is one person ruing the win of Silver Birch and wondering ‘what if’, then it is undoubtedly Paul Nicholls. During his early days at the yard, he was pinpointed as a staying chaser and won the 2004 Welsh Grand National for Nicholls while he was there.
In the build up to the 2005 race, Silver Birch was the favourite, but injury put an end to his season and ruled him out. He wasn’t the same in 2006 but had Nicholls given him a little more time, rather than sending him to the sales, this win could have been his. Of course, the change of scenery could undoubtedly have helped Silver Birch, and he may not have won if still in the Nicholls yard, but that won’t stop the Ditcheat handler from wondering.
Silver Birch’s Early Years
After running in three point-to-point races, Silver Birch began life with Paul Nicholls under rules. It was clear at a very early stage that he was a staying chaser, so much so that in just his second season under rules, he was running in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a race he came fourth in.
During his first season, he won twice over hurdles and had one chase win during his second season, it was year three when he really came to life. Here he ran just three times due to an injury cutting his season short but won all three races, including the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree and the Welsh Grand National.
Silver Birch’s Big Race Wins
Those two races in 2004 would be the second and third biggest wins of this horse’s career, behind the Grand National. His win in the Becher Chase came in November 2004, where he won by one length off a handicap mark of 123. Up 9lb in the weights, he went to the Welsh Grand National and didn’t let the weight increase stop him, he took that race by a winning margin of two lengths.
Injury troubled him after, and that led to his career path slowing down. Eventually, he found his feet again in 2007 when new trainer Gordon Elliott got him 100% right on the day for the Grand National, a day that would see him win the biggest race of his career.