Sunday 5 January 2020

National Anthem Hits the High Notes after Lengthy Spell on the Sidelines

I'm sure as you read the title you were humming ''Send her victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us...''

Well, you might be!

As it happens, we're not talking about Her Majesty the Queen. Not too much pomp and ceremony here on our little blog but a wealth of horse racing insider knowledge which may keep you on the edge of your seat until the knighthood comes along. 

So what is all this National Anthem talk? 

You may need a long memory but there is a connection with the five-year-old horse National Anthem and Group Horse Daily. If you take a look back to 2017 Group Horse Page you will see his name appear. 

Back then, this son of Intikhab was trained by John Butler, still in the ownership of Mark McKay (football agent and son of Willie McKay). National Anthem is out of a four-time winning mare [Song Of Passion] who was trained by Richard Hannon Snr. By all accounts, she was a talented horse racing in the familiar silks of Thurloe Thoroughbreds. She achieved an official rating of 101, contesting at Listed class. With total earning over £80,0000. 

National Anthem was purchased as a yearling for 42,000 guineas and then at 2yo for £50,000 by Mark McKay. 

The interesting point regarding this two-year-old's formative season is that John Butler entered him for the Lily Agnes Stakes, which registered with us as being a horse of promise. At least, a horse the trainer and owner thought capable of winning a race or two. 

National Anthem made his two-year-old debut on the 4th of October 2017, when taking part in a 5-furlong sprint at Nottingham. You can check the result by clicking this link.  He ran a respectable race, finishing fourth, beaten less than three lengths. I remember looking at the horse on the day because he was a speculative price, most probably due to being trained by a less fashionable handler. 

Anyway, for whatever reason, on the 6th of November 2018, he changed stables and went to John Balding. 

National Anthem made his second start on the 12th of November 2018, where he was relatively fancied in the betting price 11/2. Racing over 5f at Southwell, he dwelt, but led at the two-furlong pole before dropping back to eighth (beaten a similar number of lengths). Interestingly, the race comment noted: ''the trainer said the colt had a breathing problem''. 

On the 12th of November 2018, National Anthem had wind surgery. 

Nothing much was heard of National Anthem until the 28th December 2019 when it was noted the chestnut horse had changed trainer from John Balding to David Brown, still in the ownership of Mark McKay. 

On the 3rd of January 2020, after being off course for 417 days, National Anthem returned to Southwell racecourse, stepping up to 6f, and backed from 12/1 - 15/2. Ridden by Paul Mulrennan, he led from the stalls, completely outclassed the opposition, and ran out an easy four-length winner with 10 stones in his saddle. You can take a look at the full result by clicking the link here

So National Anthem won on his third start at five years old.

For a fast horse, who clearly showed promise at two, he had to wait a long time to taste victory. 

I can imagine connections were over the moon to see those dreams come to fruition. And along the way, some nice bets landed too. 

God save the Queen.