Silver Birch – Unexpected Grand National Champion
At 33-1 odds, no-one would have thought that Silver Birch stood a change in winning the Grand National. Which proves that you should never underestimate any horse that enters such a prestigious race. Aintree, in Liverpool, England, was the venue of great upset and triumph. With forty horses entering the race, only thirteen completed the course and there were no fatal or serious injuries amongst those that fell out of race.
Owner, Brian Walsh, could not contain his excitement after Silver Birch crossed the finishing line. He praised Silver Birch on his brilliant and unexpected performance and also expressed his gratitude toward Gordon Elliott who had trained Silver Birch. The John Smith’s Grand National is a 7.2-kilometer race, and in the heat of race day horses on the course had to dig deep to maintain their pace on this challenging steeple race course. The second place went to McKelvey, with jockey Tom O’Brian, and third place went to Slim Pickings, with rider Barry Geraghty.
Robbie Power, Silver Birch’s rider, was overwhelmed at winning the Grand National for the first time in his career and commented that Silver Birch had given his best effort throughout the race. He also went on to say that trainer, Gordon Elliot, had done a superb job in the training of the horse. Silver Birch had fulfilled many dreams by winning the Grand National.
Unfortunately, the celebrations were short lived, as Robbie Power received a four-day ban after the race. The ban was enforced due to Powers’ misuse of his whip by striking Silver Birch near the stifle (on a human, it would be near the joint of the knee), which is considered too low and illegal in the competition rules. Slim Pickings also had to endure the unnecessary force of his riders whip during his race, resulting in rider Barry Geraghty being slapped with a three-day ban. The ban did not, however, curb the joy and excitement of Robbie Power, who carried on celebrating his victory.
Six of the last nine National races have been won by Irish trained horses, with Silver Birch confirming the dominance of the Irish trained horses in this race and walking away as a deserving victor of the John Smith’s Grand National.