Elliott reports Tiger Roll ‘in great nick’
Any lingering worries over the well-being of Grand National favourite Tiger Roll can be cast aside after trainer Gordon Elliott reported ‘the people’s horse’ to be thriving following a setback earlier this season.
Tiger Roll had a small chip in a joint, which had to be operated on in November, resulting in fears he might have problems getting to Aintree.
He’s now back cantering at Elliott’s base in Co Meath and firmly on course for his regular path to Merseyside.
‘He’ll make Cheltenham – that’s for sure’
The ultra-versatile Tiger Roll could reappear in the Boyne Hurdle over 2m5f next month, a Grade 2 contest he won at Navan last year.
That race comes up on February 16 although Elliott remains somewhat unsure of his participation there.
One target he is set to make is the Cheltenham Festival in March, where he can bid to win the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase for the third year running and record a remarkable fifth career success at the Cotswolds extravaganza.
“Tiger Roll is in great nick and he is back cantering away. I’ve been very happy with him and with the way he has progressed over the last few weeks,” Elliott said.
The trainer added: “It is hard to know whether he will make the Boyne Hurdle at Navan. He could be back in time for it, you never know, but we will see how the next few weeks go. He will definitely make Cheltenham, that’s for sure. He’s very well at the moment and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
The history maker
Whatever he achieves at Cheltenham will pale beside Tiger Roll’s impending bid for immortality at Aintree on April 4.
He can emulate the great Red Rum by winning three Grand Nationals but would stand alone should he become the first horse in history to win the marathon three years running.
Initial scepticism from owner Michael O’Leary in the aftermath of last year’s winning run has all but disappeared, with connections in no doubt now that a fit and healthy Tiger Roll will go back to Aintree to defend his crown.
‘Aintree is his playing field’
Lisa O’Neill knows Tiger Roll better than most. She was on board in the spring of 2017 when he won the four-mile Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
She is also a regular work rider at Elliott’s Cullentra yard and knows the personality of Tiger Roll inside out.
She describes jumps racing’s most-loved star as being “full of beans” following his return from that minor setback earlier in the season.
O’Neill would have no qualms should Tiger Roll head straight to Cheltenham in March without a prep run, as it is the surroundings of Prestbury Park and Aintree that Tiger Roll truly “comes alive”.
She said: “He’s the type of horse that Cheltenham sets him alight. You can tell it in his character, too. When he rides out in Cheltenham, even the few mornings previous to his run, the place sets him alive.
“The Cross Country races have made him. When I rode him in the four-miler, he wasn’t very fluent over the normal obstacles. Aintree is his playing field. Like Cheltenham, he comes alive there.”