Tiger Roll given top weight in bid for Grand National history

Horse Racing

Tiger Roll given top weight in bid for Grand National history

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Tiger Roll's bid to become the first horse to win the Grand National three times in a row hangs in the balance, after the owner's manager said being allocated a top weight of 11 stone 10 pounds (74 kilogrammes) is a “little disappointing”.

The 10-year-old gelding last year became the first horse since the legendary Red Rum (1973/74) to win the steeple chase in consecutive years.

Red Rum went on to claim a third triumph at the race in 1977.

Red Rum was carrying 12 stone when he won his second National and 11 stone eight pounds in 1977.

Tiger Roll is the joint-top weight with Delta Force, also trained by Irishman Gordon Elliott, for the race on April 4 at Aintree Racecourse.

Each contender is allotted a different weight based on their form, as the National is a 'handicap' chase.

Tiger Roll's owner, Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary had suggested if he was not satisfied with the weight he could well pull him out.

Eddie O'Leary, the owner's brother and racing manager, has said before top weights in recent years have been generously handled by the handicapper — that was not his opinion about their treatment, however.

“It's a bit disappointing given the recent history,” Eddie O'Leary said, pointing out Tiger Roll is being asked to give four lb to Native River, the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.

“He's alongside Delta Work, who's almost certain not to run, so he'll be stuck up there on his own.”

Tiger Roll finished fifth at the Boyne Hurdle in Navan, Ireland, as the two-time Grand National winner made a first appearance over the jumps this season on Sunday last (February 16).

He had no alarms over the two-mile, five-furlong distance with jockey Keith Donoghue, and came home safely.

The race was won by stable companion Cracking Smart and Davy Russell, who was on board Tiger Roll for his two triumphs at Aintree.

“We're absolutely thrilled with him,” said his trainer Gordon Elliott.

“Once he's OK in the morning it will be all systems go for Cheltenham, and then all being well for the Grand National.”

It was confirmed by the horse's owner Eddie O'Leary last week that Tiger Roll will go for a third-successive National triumph on April 4, but the 10-year-old will carry top weight in the race.

Only the legendary Red Rum has won the race three times, as well as being the last horse to win the race carrying top weight.

“He ran better than I expected,” Elliott added. “I was very, very worried about the ground. I had a walk on it and was worried about his fitness. I thought it was a positive run.”

A maximum of 40 runners can line up for the test of jumping ability and stamina, confronting the fearsome 30 fences over four miles (6.4 kilometres).

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