Tiger Roll only ’50-50′ to go for third Grand National

Tiger Roll is only "50-50" to run in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in April, where he would bid to emulate the great Red Rum with three victories over the famous fences.

Tiger Roll only ’50-50′ to go for third Grand National

Tiger Roll is only "50-50" to run in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in April, where he would bid to emulate the great Red Rum with three victories over the famous fences.

Connections of the Gordon Elliott-trained 10-year-old are disappointed at the way the weights have been framed for the race, in which he would carry top-weight of 11st 10lb, the same weight allotted to stablemate Delta Work, the winner of the Irish Gold Cup.

A four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Tiger Roll had a setback earlier in the season and is due to return in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan this weekend.

Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for his brother Michael's Gigginstown House Stud, told Sky Sports Racing: "This horse loves the discipline - any horse competing around Aintree loves the discipline, they wouldn't be there otherwise. These horses come alive at Aintree over the fences, the absolutely love the discipline. It's not a welfare issue - he was always going to carry 11st 10lb, we understand that, but it's how he's compressed in regards to other horses.

"Native River - a Gold Cup winner - hacked up last Saturday. He's been compressed 2lb and we have to give him 4lb. I see something very unfair there.

"The handicapper has his job to do and he's done it. We wanted more (compression in the handicap). The decision is now in our hands whether we run or not. Tiger is invaluable to us and we have to look after him.

"He was definitely going to be entered in the Betway Bowl and probably the Punchestown Gold Cup. Hopefully he comes through the Navan test, he's coming back after a setback - he won't win, obviously, but if just pulls up with a smile on his face that will do us and then go on to Cheltenham and hopefully show us more there.

Then we'll decide, but at the moment it's 50-50. The Betway Bowl is definitely coming into calculations now.

O'Leary added: "Tiger Roll is a very, very special horse - but is he a Gold Cup horse? A genius like Gordon Elliott has never even considered entering him in the Gold Cup.

"We obviously would love to see Tiger Roll to go for three in a row, but we're very vocal about the fact that it (handicap) has to be compressed. It's only been compressed 1lb, which is a bit silly, so therefore we have a decision to make. The welfare of the horse we feel is far more important to us than the race.

"The Grand National is the biggest race in the world, it's bigger than any one horse."

Elliott was far more accepting of Tiger Roll's rating.

He said: "A blind man would know he's going to carry 11st 10lb. We were obviously hoping for a pound or two less, but Martin (Greenwood, BHA chase handicapper) and his team have a job to do.

"We're 4lb worse off with Magic Of Light, who was second in the race last year, so it's probably fair play - I'll not be giving out.

"Everyone has got their own opinion. If it's left to me he'll run. He's a household name and it's the most famous race in the world.

"The plan is to run at the weekend and we'll work back from there. Before Aintree he's hopefully going to have the chance to win at five Cheltenham Festivals. He's the horse of a lifetime, so if we can get him back to Cheltenham I'll be happy."

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox