Patrick Mullins delighted with supersub opportunity on Burrows Saint

One man’s loss can be another’s gain – and that is certainly true in the case of Patrick Mullins, who has come in for the plum spare ride on Burrows Saint in the Randox Grand National.

Mullins replaces Irish champion jockey Paul Townend, who picked up a foot injury at Fairyhouse last weekend which also saw him miss Monday’s Irish Grand National.

In the immediate aftermath, Willie Mullins was in no rush to rule Townend out of Aintree – but as each declaration stage passed for Thursday’s and Friday’s cards, hopes faded he would make it back in time.

Instead, the champion trainer has called on his son – who has ridden more winners as an amateur in Ireland than anyone else and if not for his battle with the scales would surely be a professional.

Looking forward to Saturday, Mullins said: “It’s fantastic to pick up the spin on him.

“Obviously Paul hasn’t recovered from the fall he had in Fairyhouse.

Burrows Saint won the Irish National two years ago
Burrows Saint won the Irish National two years ago (PA Wire)

“The weight (10st 13lb) is quite light for me, but it’s just enough.

“He’s in great form at home. I got a sit on him in Haydock this (Thursday) morning – and he ticks a lot of the boxes.

“He’s the right age as an eight-year-old; he has the right kind of weight and he’s progressive, with only nine runs over fences.

“I’m really excited to be sitting on him.”

With the doubt over Townend and his weight issue, it was a case of Burrows Saint or nothing for Mullins – but he was never counting his chickens, especially after amateurs were ruled out of last month’s Cheltenham Festival because of coronavirus restrictions.

“I’ve lived with Willie long enough to know not to ask any questions and to just wait until declarations,” he said.

“It was in the back of my head that I might get the ride. I saw the weight was doable, and I was watching it from then and got confirmation this morning.

“I did not expect to be able to ride a horse with a live chance in the Grand National. Ever since I was seven or eight and I read a book on the history of the Grand National, this was the race.

“It was disappointing not to be at Cheltenham. As it turned out, I didn’t miss a winner, which made it slightly easier.

“To get a ride in the National more than makes up for that, definitely.

“Some people like the Gold Cup, but this was always the race I wanted to have a crack at – it does not get any better than this.”

No amateur has won the National since Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990, but Burrows Saint is second-favourite with some bookmakers based on the fact he won the Irish Grand National two years ago.

“In the National, game plans can go out of the window pretty quickly, but in the Irish National Ruby (Walsh) rode him fairly handy and with a bit of daylight. After that, we’ll see where Lady Luck takes you,” said Mullins.

“I was second on a horse called Boxer George in the Foxhunters (in 2011). That’s the closest I’ve come to a winner over the fences.”

Secret Reprieve missed the cut by two
Secret Reprieve missed the cut by two (David Davies/PA)

Bristol De Mai topped the weights after the final 48-hour stage, which left Evan Williams’ Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve as only second reserve.

“We’ve had a lot worse news regarding horses – we knew there was a c Read more

Paul Townend to have further checks on foot injury after Fairyhouse fall

Paul Townend will see a doctor later this week to determine the extent of a foot injury picked up at Fairyhouse on Sunday.

Townend – who is due to partner second-favourite Burrows Saint in the Randox Grand National at Aintree – was riding Egality Mans for Willie Mullins in the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle when departing at the third-last, bringing down stablemate Power Of Pause ridden by Bryan Cooper, who escaped injury.

He was taken to Blanchardstown Hospital for precautionary X-rays and missed his mounts on Irish National day.

Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a superb Cheltenham and is hot on the heels of Paul Townend in the jockeys' title race
Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a superb Cheltenham and is hot on the heels of Paul Townend in the jockeys’ title race (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Giving an update on Monday after Stormy Ireland won the Underwriting Exchange Hurdle, in which Townend was replaced by Danny Mullins, Mullins said: “He’s going to have another visit with his doctor during the week.

“We’ll take it bit by bit and see how he goes before we make any further decisions. That’s where we are.”

Townend started the week 10 winners clear (95-85) of Rachael Blackmore in defence of his Irish jump jockeys’ title, with the championship set to conclude with the final day of the Punchestown Festival on May 1.

Irish Grand National Trends

Staged at Fairyhouse racecourse the 2021 Irish Grand National is run over a trip of 3m5f with 24 fences to be jumped.

The gruelling contest is always staged on Easter Monday (5th April 2021), while several Irish Grand National winners have also won the Aintree Grand National, but none in the same season – Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde are recent examples of this.

For example, did you know? The 16 of the last 17 winners carried 10-13 or less in weight, while 14 of the last 17 successful horses were Irish-bred. We’ve also seen just three winning favourites in the last 17 renewals, while in 2019, trainer Willie Mullins landed his first Irish Grand National with the 6-year-old Burrows Saint.

Recent Irish Grand National Winners

2020 - No Race (Covid)
2019 – BURROWS SAINT (6/1 fav)
2017 – OUR DUKE (9/2 fav)
2016 – ROGUE ANGEL (16/1)
2015 – THUNDER AND ROSES (20/1)
2014 – SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (8/1 fav)
2013 – LIBERTY COUNSEL (50/1)
2012 – LION NA BEARNAI (33/1)
2010 – BLUESEA CRACKER (25/1)
2009 – NICHE MARKET (33/1)
2008 – HEAR THE ECHO (33/1)
2007 – BUTLER’S CABIN (14/1)
2006 – POINT BARROW (20/1)
2004 – GRANIT D’ESTRUVAL (33/1)
2003 – TIMBERA (11/1)

Irish Grand National Betting Trends

16/17 – Carried 10-13 or LESS
16/17 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks
16/17 – Won over at least 3m previously
15/17 – Winning distance – 5 lengths or less
14/17 – Irish bred
14/17 – Carried 10-8 or LESS
13/17 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
13/17 – Returned a double-figure price
14/17 – Aged 9 or younger
12/17 – Carried 10-6 or LESS
13/17 – Won by an Irish-based trainer
12/17 – Had raced at Fairyhouse previously
11/17 – Unplaced favourites
10/17 – Finished fourth or better last time out
10/17 – Had raced within the last 4 weeks
8/17 – Rated between 130-136
4/17 – Won by an English-based trainer
3/17 – Ran at Navan last time out
3/17 – Won last time out
3/17 – Winning favourites
The average winning SP in the last 16 years is 21/1
Trainer Willie Mullins is yet to win the race
Only two horses since 2000 to win with more than 11-0, Our Duke (2017) & Commanche Court (2000)


Let’s take a look at some of the key trends………………

Weight – You can start your weight cut-off point at 10st 13lbs or less as 16 of the last 17 winners ticked this trend, but you can also take this a bit further too. With 82% of the last 17 winners having 10st 8lbs or less, then you could whittle down the runners further with this stat, or if you’re feeling a bit braver, then it could pay to note 12 of the last 17 winners (71%) won with just 10st 6lbs or less on their backs.

Recent Run/Form – Having a recent run within the last eight weeks is another trend to have on your side – 16 of the last 17 winners supported this trend, plus 10 of the last 17 ran in the last 4 weeks. The same amount had also won a race over at least 3m in the past, while 10 of the last 17 winners came into the race off a top four finish last time out, but it’s worth pointing out only 3 of the last 17 won their last outing.

Track Form – The most recent winner of the race – Burrows Saint – was having his debut run at Fairyhouse, but in general previous experience of the course is certainly something to look for with 12 of the last 17 successful horses having raced at the track before.

Betting – In the last 17 runnings, the average winning SP has been 20/1 – this tells us to not be afraid to look a bit further down the market for the winner. Yes, the 2019 winner – Burrows Saint – was sent off at the 6/1 favourite, but he was only the third winning market leader since 2003 and we’ve seen 11 of the last 17 jollies finish unplaced. This is further backed up with 13 of the last 17 winners coming from outside the top three in the market and also returning a double-figure price.

Age – Unlike the Aintree Grand National, where horses aged 7 or younger have struggled in recent times, the Irish version has been okay for the younger runners. The most recent winner – Burrows Saint was a 6 year-old when he won in 2019, while 50% of the last six winners have been aged 7 – did you know, the last 7 year-old to land the Aintree Grand National was in 1940! We saw a couple of 10 year-olds win the Irish National in 2012 and 2013, but since 1998 (22 runnings) we’ve had 19 runners aged 9 or younger.