Elliott: One more hurrah the ‘dream’ for Tiger Roll

Last Updated 5 Jan 2022 | By Enda McElhinney | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering
Magic of Light Tiger Roll Grand National 2019

RACING-ENG-NATIONAL: Jockey Davy Russell on Tiger Roll (R) leads Magic Of Light riden by jockey Paddy Kennedy (C) as he crosses the line after winning the Grand National Handicap Chase horse race on the final day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, north west England on April 6, 2019. Tiger Roll put his name alongside legend Red Rum on Saturday winning back to back Grand Nationals in stunning style. The 4-1 favourite, superbly ridden by Davy Russell, took up the running at the last fence and although 66-1 outsider Magic of Light came back at him the nine-year-old had enough to spare to emulate Red Rum’s feat in 1973-74. Oli SCARFF / AFP – Oli Scarff/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

Gordon Elliott admits his dream is to see Tiger Roll land one more big success next spring, but the trainer concedes it’s asking a lot to anticipate that being a third Aintree Grand National.

Elliott sees enough sparkle in the ‘horse of a lifetime’ to be dreaming of more glory, but completing an Aintree treble might be asking too much.

Many Clouds challenge on agenda

Tiger Roll, now 12, is set to run this weekend at Aintree in what will be his first start since April. Then, it was the Grade 1 Betway Bowl on Merseyside, while now it’s set to be the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chae on Saturday afternoon.

He could face – amongst others – former Gold Cup winners Al Boum Photo and Native River in this weekend’s race and his trainer is happy to start off in England.

“He’ll probably go to Aintree for a Grade Two on Saturday. He’ll go to the Boyne Hurdle and he’ll go to the Cross Country Race at Cheltenham,” Elliott said this week.

This latest Aintree visit may be deemed another attempt by owners Gigginstown House Stud to convince the British Handicapper that Tiger Roll’s mark needs revising, ahead of a possible tilt at the National in the spring.

‘Not what he was’

By that point it will be three long years since Tiger Roll famously became the first horse since Red Rum to land back-to-back Grand Nationals at Aintree.

The pandemic ensured the 2020 renewal was lost, while owner Michael O’Leary opted to skip the race in 2021 in favour of the Grade 1 Bowl, suggesting Tiger Roll was rated too highly to be competitive in the National.

The hope of a third Aintree win isn’t lost, but Elliott knows it is now a major ask.

“If you’re going to dream, you’d love to go back and win a third Grand National, but the stats don’t lie. It’s running on three years since he ran in a Grand National. It’s not going to be any easier for him, he’s not getting any younger,” Elliott said.

Taking the roof off Cheltenham

Instead, the focus appears to be on another Cheltenham Festival win in March. Should he do it, it would be Tiger Roll’s sixth win at the extravaganza in the Cotswolds.

He retained his Cross Country crown back in March, romping home by 18-lengths from Easysland – the horse that denied him in 2020.

Though Elliott’s license was suspended at that time and Denise Foster’s name was on the racecard, he says nothing has given him a bigger thrill and he longs for one more big-race win come March.

“Ah look, he probably isn’t what he was, but if we can get him back to win another Cross Country race, it’d be a dream come true. He’s a horse of a lifetime and just to have a horse like him around the place is unbelievable,” Elliott adds.

“To be honest, if you were to ask me, I’d love to win another Cross Country Race in Cheltenham with him. I think if he won, it would bring the roof down in Cheltenham.

“For me looking at Cheltenham this year, Tiger Roll winning was probably one of the proudest moments I ever had training horses. He’s just a little superstar and I’m very lucky to have him.”

Enda McElhinney

Enda McElhinney is a racing writer with a growing portfolio of work on both British and Irish racing, with a particular fondness for National Hunt racing. While he acknowledges there have been many great runners; there has only ever been one Denman.

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