Tiger Roll set for Cheltenham swansong after owner slams Grand National weight

Jockey Davy Russell celebrates winning the Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase with Tiger Roll during Grand National Day of the 2019 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse.Jockey Davy Russell celebrates winning the Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase with Tiger Roll during Grand National Day of the 2019 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse.

Tiger Roll will not participate in the Grand National

Dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll will not seek to equal Red Rum’s record of three Aintree Grand National victories after the weights were announced this week. Owner Michael O’Leary slammed the handicapper for assessing the twelve-year-old with a rating of 161, 2lbs higher than  when achieving his second victory in 2019. The horse will now be aimed at the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham next month with the likelihood that he will be retired immediately afterwards.

Grand National weights row ends Tiger Roll bid for third National

When Tiger Roll won back-to-back Grand Nationals in 2018 and 2019, the racing world revelled in a horse that had captured the public imagination. His success put horse racing back on the front pages as the prospect of equalling the record of the legendary Red Rum became a reality. Red Rum’s three victories came in 1973, 1974 and 1977. He had also finished runner-up in 1975 and 1976.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Tiger Roll with the 2020 race lost to the pandemic and his owner’s insistence that he was harshly handicapped accounting for his absence last year. It came as no surprise to see a similar level of vitriol aimed at the handicapper again this week. The arguments will rumble on but the end result is that Tiger Roll will most likely end his career at Cheltenham where it all began with his Triumph Hurdle success in 2014.

The gelding has since won the National Hunt Chase and three Cross Country Chases to take his Festival tally to five. Although he has shown little spark on the racecourse recently, he still commands so much respect that he is ante-post favourite to sign off with another victory next month. He has been promised a good retirement and his legion of supporters will be hoping he can go out in style.

Any Second Now heads Grand National betting

The announcement of the weights did not hold any real surprises and last year’s third-placed Any Second Now is the 16-1 ante-post favourite. Tiger Roll’s trainer Gordon Elliott still has plenty to look forward to with his other entries including Cheltenham-bound Run Wild Fred and Mount Ida. They are likely to appear in the National Hunt Chase and the Mares’ Chase respectively.

Willie Mullins also has a strong entry, led by Burrows Saint who appeared to be cantering with three to jump last year before his stamina gave out. The 2019 Irish Grand National winner had a gentle introduction behind Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day. Mullins also put in a good word for Franco De Port, a Grade 1 winner as a novice and a good second to Longhouse Poet in the Thyestes Chase at the end of January.

Last year’s winner Minella Times is likely to be re-united with Rachael Blackmore and is a best-priced 25-1 for a repeat victory. The popular mare Snow Leopardess is the shortest-priced British hope at a general 16-1 while Nicky Henderson is optimistic that 50-1 chance Caribean Boy will finally end his Grand National hoodoo. For those who have enjoyed the early introduction of  “non runner – no bet” on the Cheltenham Festival, only Betfred among the leading bookmakers are offering the same concession on the Grand National. The big race is due off at 5.15pm on Saturday 9th April.