Last season’s Grand National hero Tiger Roll is all set to reappear in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on Friday where he will have to shoulder top weight.
The Gigginstown-owned eight-year-old, who is also a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, wrote his name into the history books at Aintree in April and may return there once again, but the early indications are that his season will not entirely be geared towards an automatic defence of his title. A more cautious “let’s see how things go” approach appears to be being adopted by his team.
His trainer Gordon Elliott recently said: “That’s the plan. We will keep him in cross-country races the whole year up to the Grand National,” said Elliott.
“I think the Grand National will be a big ask, as he is not the biggest horse in the world and he is going to have an awful lot of weight in the National.
“If you are not in it, you can’t win, and he proved he liked the track. If we get there we would be delighted.”
He went on: “When we bought him I never expected to him to do what he has. He has been an amazing little horse and is a favourite at home. If I can get him back to Cheltenham and win four times that would be special for me.”
Speaking about Friday’s race, Elliott said: “He’s come back this year a totally different horse and looks grand. It is a big ask under top weight on Friday but the cross country race at the track in March is going to be his Gold Cup.”
Tiger Roll will be out to become the first horse to land back-to-back victories in the Grand National since the great Red Rum in 1973-74 and bookmakers quote him as a 20/1 shot to emulate the Ginger McCain-trained legend.
There is no doubt that the diminutive gelding has the heart of a lion, but the fact remains that for the last 45 years no horse has ever been able to follow up and win the world’s ultimate steeplechase again the year after.
In recent times horses such as Papillon, Monty’s Pass, Hedgehunter, Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It have all returned to Merseyside the year after their National victory and finished in the frame, but not one of them could complete that elusive double.
All of the early indicators and hunches over Tiger Roll are that he will probably enjoy a degree of success over the coming season, but another Grand National win will most likely elude him as has happened to all the others before him.