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Hemmings’ Burton Port Still a Potential Grand National Contender

Had he avoided a series of training setbacks over the last four years there is little doubt that the Nicky Henderson-trained Burton Port might well have been good enough to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup - but it wasn’t to be.

Nevertheless, the nine-year-old remains a horse of considerable ability when he is sound and despite disappointing on his first outing of the campaign over hurdles may yet be a major contender for honours at Aintree in April when he could represent his sporting owner Trevor Hemmings in the Crabbies Grand National 2014.

There is no race on the calendar more important to Hemmings, owner of the Blackpool Tower amongst a raft of business interests, and also owner of no fewer than two previous Grand National winners: 2005 hero Hedgehunter, and the 2011 winner Ballabriggs. When Hemmings buys a young horse he does so in the hope that one day that horse might be good enough to carry his green, yellow and white colours in ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’.

Burton Port ran second in the 2010 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival before going on to win on the Mildmay course at Aintree a few weeks later, landing the Grade 2 novice chase before reappearing the following November to run a blinder when second to Diamond Harry in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. A series of subsequent training setbacks meant that the gelded son of Bob Back wasn’t seen again for 16 months, after which he returned to very nearly beat Long Run in Grade 2 company at Newbury before finishing an excellent fourth behind Synchronised in the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

If he remains fit and healthy and gets the green light to bid for the Grand National (40/1), Burton Port could very well prove a hard horse to beat. He really is a class act.

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