Elliott May Have Another Grand National Contender

Trainer Gordon Elliott must still be on cloud nine following his Galway Plate win with Borice. The 8-year-old romped home to take the win ahead of Black Corton and jockey Bryony Frost. Of course, this also meant that bookies instantly installed him in the Grand National 2020 market at odds of 33/1.

Based on his recent form, those odds offer pretty decent value, though his participation in the race next year is still a long way from being confirmed. However, Borice is already showing signs of being a solid chaser and one-to-follow over the coming season.

Owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, who also own Bristol De Mai and Ucello Conti, Borice has spent most of his career running in France. He was only moved to Gordon Elliott’s yard in November 2018 and has since run five times for his new trainer.

The first two outings were quite soon after his move and neither proved fruitful. His first trip around Leopardstown in December saw him languishing 62L behind the winner. Likewise, a month later, when he headed to Gowran Park finishing in 9th place form 18 runners.

But then Elliott worked his magic over the next five months and Borice returned a different prospect entirely. His first two runs were in Novice Handicaps at Uttoxeter and Perth, both of which he won easily. That set him nicely for his trip at Galway which was a more challenging affair.

One of the most competitive handicaps in Ireland, the Galway Plate saw 22 runners take to the starting line. From the off, Black Corton was a leader with Borice sitting comfortably in the middle of the pack for most of the 2m6f. It wasn’t until six fences to go that Luke Dempsey made a move and started to travel through the pack.

Two out and it was still all to play for. In fact, it looked like Black Corton was going to take it before Frost was hampered by a loose horse. That gave Borice just enough time to come up on the outside and win by just over 3L. It was also a bumper payday, with connections taking £160K for their trouble.

Following the race Elliott said: “Borice won three chases and they sent him to me to run in some of the big staying chases.

“We didn’t have him long when he ran in the Paddy Power at Christmas and the Thyestes in January and we gave him a break before bringing him back to win a couple of hurdle races with the Plate in mind.

“I was a bit worried that the ground might be a bit quick for him but he coped with it well.

“He might be an Aintree National horse one day, maybe next year, as I think he’ll appreciate longer trips than today’s.”

So could Borice really have claims on the Grand National 2020? There are a number of factors to consider. Firstly, as good as the Galway Plate was, it was a long way off the distance of Aintree. Borice has only run four times at three miles or more, winning none of them.

His rating will have increased substantially on the back of his latest win but whether or not it would be good enough to get him into the top 40 for the National remains to be seen. Elliott will need to get another couple of decent runs under his belt to be sure of a place.

Borice is a horse that runs in bursts of races. Connections tend to run him three or four times in quick succession then take a break before repeating the process. So historically he has run eight or nine times in a calendar year. But with more challenging handicap races in the UK, that may be too much to ask of the horse.

I imagine that Borice will definitely get an entry to the 2020 Grand National. However, depending on the rest of this season goes, I think the distance will be too much and he may head to the Irish Grand National instead.

But keep your eyes on him, he’s a lovely runner with buckets of potential and could be the dark horse of the National. If he runs.