With the Grand National only a couple of months away, the question on everybody’s lips is: can Tiger Roll win it again?
The 173rd Grand National will take place on April 4th at 5:15pm with a whopping prize fund of £1m – making it the richest race in the horse racing calendar.
The 2018 and 2019 champion is the stand out name in the 105 entries for the much anticipated race as the Gordon Elliott-trained horse aims to make history with three wins in a row.
Tiger Roll’s victory last year made him the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in the 1970s, and the 10-year-old will hopefully be back at Aintree this April looking to become the only horse to win three consecutive nationals – so, if you want to bet on Grand National, then the 10-year-old is worth a punt.
The Irish horse, who had surgery for a chip in a joint in November, is expected to get his season up and running at either the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle at Navan next Sunday or at the Cheltenham Festival next month – in the Cross Country Chase, which he has won four times previously.
“He did his first bit of work on Saturday after his setback and he worked well. He’ll work again during the week,” trainer Elliott said.
“My plan is to run on Sunday week in the Boyne Hurdle – he won’t be as fit as he was last year and will come on a lot for the run, but it will be a lovely stepping stone to the cross-country at Cheltenham.
“He missed a month, so he’s by no means as fit as he was when he won it last year. Hopefully it will put him spot on for Cheltenham.”
However, Tiger Roll running in this year’s Grand National isn’t actually a given. We will have to wait until the official weights are unveiled on February 11th to see if the 10-year-old will take part in the famous race.
And Eddie O’Leary, whose brother Michael owns Tiger Roll, has warned that if the horse doesn’t hit a certain figure, ‘he won’t be running.’
“I have figure in my head but I’m not going to mention it. If he hits that figure he runs and if he doesn’t he won’t be running,” Eddie O’Leary told Racing Post.
As always, the competition for the coveted national crown will be rife for Tiger Roll as he aims to round off the perfect hat-trick. Magic of Light, who finished runner-up last year, is amongst the 105 names entered, while 2017 winner One For Arthur could also be lining up at the Aintree start line.
History and the stats are against Tiger Roll, who is currently the bookies favourite, winning the showpiece three times in a row. In the last 10 years, the favourite has only won twice, although, the 10-year-old’s victory last year was one of those occurrences.
Meanwhile, in the 73 post-war era races, the favourite or joint-favourite have only won 10 times, so Tiger Roll really is up against it.
However, the two-time champion has already smashed a number of those records and put a dent in the history books, so there is no reason why the Elliott trained horse can’t win it again. Roll on April!