All clear now: Tiger Roll runs at Aintree
After the mini-furore that was the weights announcement for the Randox Health Grand National, Gigginstown House Stud have confirmed their intention to run two-time winner Tiger Roll in the race.
A faux-war between Michael O’Leary’s operation and the BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood had surrounded the weights announcement, with racing manager Eddie O’Leary going as far as suggesting Tiger Roll might not run following news he would carry 11st 10lb off a rating of 170 in his quest to make it three Aintree Nationals on the trot.
Mercifully, that has been ended ahead of Tiger Roll’s return to action in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
The full focus of the racing public can now turn towards Tiger Roll’s preparation for a date with destiny in seven weeks’ time when he could become the first horse ever to win three successive Grand Nationals at Aintree.
Familiar path for racing’s pocket-rocket
Tiger Roll hasn’t run since retaining the Grand National last spring, when he became the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Aintree marathons.
He hit a couple of minor setbacks this season but trainer Gordon Elliott is happy with him now.
He’s set for his reappearance in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle on Sunday, a race he caused a 25/1 upset in when scoring 12 months ago.
After that, it’s onwards to bid for a fifth Cheltenham Festival win of his remarkable career by landing a hat-trick of Cross Country titles next month and, everything being well, all roads then lead to Aintree in April.
“He’ll go to Navan this weekend for the Boyne Hurdle that he won last year, he badly wants a run (after his setback),” said Eddie O’Leary.
“If he comes out of this fine, it will then be Cheltenham for the cross country (chase) again.
“If all goes well this weekend and then all goes well at Cheltenham, it will then be the National, hopefully.”
Old foe awaits in Navan
Sunday’s 2m5f Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle will present Tiger Roll with a very familiar foe as the Jessica Harrington-trained mare Magic Of Light has also been declared to run.
Magic Of Light defied odds of 66/1 to finish second to Tiger Roll in last year’s National at Aintree.
This season, she has already won a Listed Chase at Newbury and a Grade 2 Hurdles race at Aintree either side of Christmas, both wins coming at just shy of three miles.
She drops in trip and will get 7lb from Tiger Roll on this occasion. Beaten just over three lengths in second at Aintree last spring, Magic Of Light is going to enjoy a 4lb turnaround at the weights with Tiger Roll come April 4th when they lock horns once more on Merseyside.
For now, their latest set-to in Ireland is set to engage punters and draw a crowd to Navan.
“We are all bubbling with excitement here in Navan and I have no doubt Tiger Roll will get the turnstiles clicking. He’s the most popular horse in training right now and we are privileged to have him running at Navan. It should be a magic day,” said racecourse manager Peter Killeen.
“You couldn’t write the script any better. To have the Tiger Roll and Magic Of Light, the first two home in the Grand National, running in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle is just fantastic. It is going to be a very special day.”