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.”
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!”
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