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Bumper debut in prospect for Burrow Seven

Jedd O’Keeffe describes Burrow Seven as an “exciting prospect” as he looks to give the four-year-old his racecourse debut in a bumper before putting him over hurdles.

There is no date yet for the grey’s first run, because the North Yorkshire trainer felt the son of Kayf Tara needed more time.

However, the horse who carries the hopes – as well as the name – of the Burrow Seven Racing Club, is now back in full work.

“We had to back off him for a little while. He was just telling us he was physically not quite ready,” said O’Keeffe.

“We had been bringing him towards a peak, but we decided to take a bit of a pull.

“He’s now back in ridden work every day, and we’re going to be making a plan.”

O’Keeffe will test Burrow Seven on the track only when he feels the time is right.

“We think he’s going to be a proper jumper who wants give in the ground,” he added.

“We might end up running out of time (this season) if everywhere dries up, but he’s in great shape at the moment. We’re really happy with him.

“He’s an exciting one for the future – we like him very much.

“We’re likely to be starting in a bumper. I would think next season he will be going over hurdles.”

All prize money won by the horse will go to the Burrow Seven Racing Club for research into the treatment of motor neurone disease.

Rob Burrow during his playing days for Leeds Rhinos
Rob Burrow during his playing days for Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA)

The club was created to gather donations for Rob Burrow’s Fightback Fund, itself launched after the former Leeds Rhinos scrum-half was diagnosed with MND in December 2019.

Within a month of its creation, the club had gathered sufficient interest to donate £50,000 to the fund – and that amount has more than doubled since.

O’Keeffe said: “As far as I’m aware, the fund-raising is going very well.

“It has been incredibly well supported, beyond anybody’s expectations.”

Burrow Seven funds reach £100,000

Funds raised by the Burrow Seven Racing Club for research into the treatment of motor neurone disease have reached £100,000.

The club was created three months ago to gather donations for Rob Burrow’s Fightback Fund, itself launched after the former Leeds Rhinos scrum-half was diagnosed with MND in December 2019.

Within a month of its creation, the club had garnered sufficient interest to donate £50,000 to the fund – and that amount has since doubled.

Members of the club will share the experience of owning Burrow Seven, a four-year-old grey gelding by Kayf Tara in training with Jedd O’Keeffe in Leyburn.

Burrow Seven wears a celebratory rosette next to stablehand Jess to mark £100,000 donated to the MND Association (Jules Annan)

The horse is yet to make his racecourse debut, but when he does the charity may receive further funds because all prize money will also be donated.

Barrie McDermott, former Rhinos great and ambassador for the campaign, said of the milestone: “Burrow Seven is the campaign that keeps on giving.

“This is our second big donation in three months, and we hope there will be many more to come.”

Burrow added: “I want to say a huge thank you to all of the Burrow Seven members who have helped raise £100,000 to help fight MND.

“It’s a great achievement. When Barrie first told me about the concept of the fundraising campaign I was really impressed by how original and fun it sounded.

Rob Burrow and his mother Irene stand in front of Burrow Seven at Jedd O'Keeffe's racing yard in Middleham, Yorkshire
Rob Burrow and his mother Irene with Burrow Seven at Jedd O’Keeffe’s yard (Richard Addison)

“I never dreamed it could raise this money. I’ve chosen that all donations in my name will go directly into research to help one day find a cure for MND.”

The cause is supported by several racing figures, including jockeys Paul Hanagan, Brian Hughes and Paul Mulrennan.

“Burrow Seven is such a great initiative,” said Hanagan.

“I’m really proud to be involved with the fundraising campaign.

“It’s brilliant to see the horse racing and rugby league communities come together to raise such an invaluable amount of money for this great cause.”

Syndicate launched in support of Rob Burrow’s charity fundraising

Racing and rugby league fans are being offered the chance to join a new syndicate aimed at raising money for former Leeds Rhinos star Rob Burrow’s Fight Back Fund for the MND Association.

The Burrow Seven Racing Club, which is the brainchild of Racing4Business founder Phil Hawthorne, has been set up to honour the former Great Britain international, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last December.

Shares in Burrow Seven, who will be trained by Jedd O’Keeffe, cost £59 each, with all profits going to the MND Association to help fund a number of research projects trying to find a cure for the disease.

Helping get the project off the ground is Burrow’s close friend and former Rhinos team mate, Barrie McDermott, who believes the scheme is the ideal way for fans of both sports to help raise funds for the charity, while having some fun along the way.

He said: “I’ve been doing a bit of business with Phil Hawthorne for a few years and he is a big Wigan Warriors fan and big Rob Burrow fan. His passions are rugby league and horse racing.

“We started kicking a few ideas around as to how we could involve lots of people who wanted to help the fight towards MND and associate themselves with the mission to help Rob by having some fun as well.

“What we think we have here is something really inclusive, and Covid friendly. People who like horse racing can get involved, and people who don’t like horse racing but want to support Rob and put some money into his fund can as well.

“There are no limits as to how many can get involved. We could have a thousand, we could have 10,000. Our hope is we get as many people as possible and there is more demand than anything else we put together.”

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Rob Burrow during his playing days with the Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA Images)
Rob Burrow during his playing days with the Leeds Rhinos (Richard Sellers/PA Images)

Though Burrow, who played more than 490 games for the Rhinos during his career, has now lost the ability to walk, McDermott believes the syndicate will continue to give him a boost during difficult times.

McDermott added: “He is such a brave man and I’ve got so much respect for him. He is my mate and I’ve known him almost 20 years.

“What I’ve seen from him in the last 12 months – it’s really taken my breath away. He never feels sorry for himself and even though his speech is a bit of a struggle, there is always a laugh and a smile.

“Everybody that does something for him, whether that be a school raffle to raise £80, or somebody like his old team mate Kevin Sinfield, who is running seven marathons in seven days – or the Burrow Seven Racing Club – they get the same amount of gratitude from Rob.

“We are all just super proud of him and this light he is shining on this dreadful disease.”

Several names were put forward for the three-year-old gelding, who has spent pre-training with retired Gold Cup-winning handler Henrietta Knight, but in the opinion of McDermott, there was only ever going to be one winner.

He said: “I consulted Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire, lads who were really close to Rob. We had a couple of different options, but I said I liked Burrow Seven and all of them said ‘that’s perfect’.

“We couldn’t have the number seven, but the word is the next best thing. Rob Burrow and the number seven is synonymous with success and winning.

“We are really looking forward to getting him out on track and toasting a victory when he romps home at 25-1!”

Jedd O’Keeffe, left, who will train Burrow Seven (Dan Abraham/PA Images)
Jedd O’Keeffe, left, who will train Burrow Seven (Dan Abraham/PA Images)

McDermott joined Burrow and his family at O’Keeffe’s yard in North Yorkshire earlier this month to visit Burrow Seven, and he is confident they have a horse who can replicate Burrow’s fighting spirit, both on and off the pitch.

He added: “Jedd is a lovely fellow and he knows Rob and hopefully he will bring this character out in the horse.

“We are confident that Jedd and Andrea are the right people to be dealing with the horse as well. I’ve watched him on the gallops when Rob and I went to Middleham and he looks a cracker. He looks full of character and if he has got Rob’s fighting spirit and his desire, then I think we are on to a winner.”

After meeting his namesake, Burrow said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ve been excited about this fundraising campaign for some time, but meeting this magnificent racehorse was something else. I’m really honoured to have him named after me and I can’t wait to see him in his first race.

“Thank you to everyone who supports the MND Association by taking part. Research is the key to cure this disease. Together we can do it.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Burrow Seven Racing Club should visit www.burrowseven.com