Trainer Gordon Elliott has confirmed that his multiple Cheltenham Festival winning hero Tiger Roll will run only twice this season before bidding to become the first horse in history to win the Grand National for a third consecutive year.
The Gigginstown House owned nine-year-old raised the roof at this year’s Cheltenham Festival when cruising to a 22 length success over Josies Orders success in the 3m 6f Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
It was his fourth success at the famous meeting and cemented his position as one of the all time favourites in the history of the Cheltenham Festival having previously landed the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle (2014) and National Hunt Chase (2017) at the four-day spectacular. In an interview with Aintree racecourse, Elliott revealed that the Cross Country Chase, for he is 6/4 favourite with Betfred, would be Tiger Roll’s second run of the 2019/20 season after to the yard from his summer holiday in rude health.
“It is great to see him back, doing a bit of work again. He has had a nice couple of months of summer holidays. He went back to Gigginstown obviously. He was probably out there and had about 10-12 weeks out on grass. He hasn’t had a saddle on him since Aintree and the National but he has done a few parades and had a few good days out, which is great. “I have seen him a couple of times during the summer at Gigginstown and he was good and strong, and I have seen him when he was here for a while before he went off to do his flat work and he looked good.
“Obviously he won’t be that busy this year. We are going to have to mind him now and pick and choose where we go. He will probably have one run over hurdles, maybe something like the Boyne Hurdle (Navan, February) again. He will go back to Cheltenham (March) for the Cross Country race and then we’ll go for the Randox Health Grand National.”
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6/1 to Create National History
In April, Tiger Roll emulated the legendary Red Rum to win the world’s greatest steeplechase back to back. He is currently a top priced 6/1 with Paddy Power to be the first horse to land the world’s most famous steeplechase on three consecutive occasions.
Elliott already has riding arrangements for the forthcoming season sorted, with Davy Russell once again set to be in the plate at Aintree. He said: “Keith (Donoghue) will ride him in Cheltenham in the Cross Country race and the Boyne Hurdle and then Davy Russell will ride him in the National.”
Elliott was also candid when asked whether he had been tempted to run Tiger Roll in one of the top Grade 1 races of the jumps calendar.
“People tell me I should be entering him in Stayers’ Hurdles or Gold Cups but I was always taught and I am a big believer in going for the race you think you can win at the Cheltenham Festival and the race I think I can win at the Cheltenham Festival is the Cross Country race, so that’s where he will go. But the number one target this year will be the English National,” said the County Meath based handler.
Tiger Roll’s second Randox Health Grand National win in April this year sparked huge media interest around the world and has made him one of the public’s most favourite horses of all-time.
Elliott admits that he only realised how much his stable superstar meant to people after the race when reading headlines and meeting people. He explained: “You don’t really appreciate it when you are in the bubble yourself. You don’t realise how much of a thing there is about this horse, you know? It’s only after when you sit back and you watch the videos and read all the paper clippings, people have really got to like him.
“You know, he has got a great name, Tiger Roll, and he’s got a great heart. He has obviously won at four Cheltenham Festivals and to win two Randox Health Grand Nationals has been unbelievable. “Everyone who comes into the yard, there’s only one horse they want to see and that is Tiger Roll. He’s a people’s horse now and we are very lucky to have him.
“Red Rum was before my time but you’ve seen the videos and heard all about him. He was an amazing horse and to be in the same league as him is unbelievable.”
Better than Ever
Ominously for his rivals, Elliott believes Tiger Roll has improved as a horse and, if everything in his preparation goes right, he will have a fantastic chance to make history.
He added: “I suppose last year (2018) we thought he would hose up until the last 50 yards and he just nearly got caught. I was still confident when he had got past the line last year that he had won but, until they call the result, you never know.
“This year was probably easier to watch. He travelled and jumped and did everything right. You know, it’s a funny thing to say but he was arguably a better horse this year than he was last year.
“I think the build up to the English National this season is going to be unbelievable. The hype – people are talking about him already. Whether he wins, loses or draws if he gets back there to have a go at three in a row it’s going to be great. The hype is going to be brilliant.”
That connections are right to let Tiger Roll take his chance again in the Aintree spectacular – despite the fact that he will have top-weight to carry.
He loves the unique spruce fences and it would be incredible to see him rewrite the record books. Jumps racing needs it’s stars and for them to be seen doing what they love best, so roll on Aintree!