McCain: No mercy on Tiger Roll
Grand National-winning trainer Donald McCain says Tiger Roll should not be treated any differently to those that have gone before him in his quest for further Aintree glory.
Owners Gigginstown House Stud have suggested the Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll will only return to Aintree if the weights are suitably compressed to ensure he’s not asked an impossible question come April 4th.
Ahead of the official BHA weights announcement on Tuesday in Liverpool, McCain has suggested that ‘no horse is bigger than the Grand National’.
No favours for Tiger
While Eddie O’Leary has been keen to suggest the handicapper should take into account Tiger Roll’s quest for history, McCain is much less open to fairytale notions.
His father, Ginger, was the trainer of the legendary Red Rum; the last horse before Tiger Roll to win back-to-back Grand Nationals at Aintree.
The fabulous Red Rum won the great race in 1973 and 1974 before triumphing again in 1977. In the years in between he routinely carried top weight around the course.
Looking back on that golden era, McCain says there was never a question of favour for Red Rum and he insists his father would have been against any such notions.
“Red Rum was top-weight every year after his first year,” said McCain. “In the space of two years the turnaround in weight with dual Gold Cup winner L’Escargot was 33lb. I know Dad would have been insulted if it had been any different.”
Run or not, Aintree is bigger
McCain would relish the chance to see Tiger Roll bid for an unprecedented three-in-a-row. With Gigginstown making noises about compressed handicaps, however, he has warned the powerful owners to front up and get on with it.
McCain admits that in his youth he’d have baulked at the idea of any horse matching or surpassing the Aintree achievements of Red Rum.
Now though, he is drinking in the Tiger Roll story like everyone else.
Tiger Roll deserves his top-weight and connections should simply get on with it and allow the racing public the chance to watch him strut his stuff.
He doesn’t have a runner himself in 2020 but the North’s leading trainer certainly expects to see Tiger Roll defending his crown in April.
“Growing up I thought I’d be really upset when a horse won a second Grand National, but I rang Gordon the morning after saying well done and it was a great spectacle,” added the trainer.
“If they don’t want to run, that’s fine. No one horse is bigger than the Grand National, which is still the greatest race in the world. I’m pretty certain he’ll turn up, though. The horse is absolutely great for racing and Gordon is doing a great job with him.”
Aintree test much-changed now
One thing McCain is certain of is that the Grand National is a different race compared to the one Red Rum faced.
With health and safety concerns and horse welfare central, Aintree has strived in recent years to make changes to the National fences.
Public perception is key and McCain points to Tiger Roll as a prime example of how the great race has changed in the modern era.
Elliott’s charge won the National as a 4/1 chance last year, with McCain adamant it would have been a bigger price just to get around in one piece days gone by.
“Is it the same race? No, not in a million years. What you have now is a horse that is the most efficient jumper of the new type of Grand National fence,” he added.
“He only gets three-quarters of the way up, he almost jumps them like a bullfinch. Could he do that round the old National fences? No.
“The race has changed beyond all recognition. You have to remember in those days it used to be 6-1 just to get round.”