‘Stiff’ Tiger Roll expected to be fine for Aintree
Gordon Elliott reported Tiger Roll to be ‘a bit stiff’ in the wake of a runner-up finish in Cheltenham’s Cross Country race this week, though he is expecting him to be fine for the Grand National at Aintree.
Tiger Roll relinquished his crown in the Cross Country Chase, ultimately proving no match for the impressive French youngster Easysland.
Sore but on course for National
Elliott, who ended the Cheltenham Festival with a fantastic seven winners, reported Tiger Roll to have come out of his run without major concerns. The softer ground was not to his liking, though the teak-tough star still gave his six-year-old rival a scare before fading up the home straight.
Tiger Roll finished a long way clear of Out Sam in third spot and Elliott reported no post-race concern when he reflected on the defeat later in the week at Cheltenham.
“Tiger Roll was grand [the morning after]. A bit stiff, but he’s okay,” said the trainer.
“He got very tired. Hopefully the next couple of weeks go well, and we get back to Aintree.”
Following his Cheltenham second, Tiger Roll is a best-priced 8/1* favourite to make history by winning a third successive Grand National success on April 4th.
No fifth Festival win as Easy does it
Tiger Roll was the 8/11 favourite to win a third successive Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham but rider Keith Donoghue felt he never quite travelled with the same enthusiasm on the soft ground.
Despite that, Donoghue was able to manoeuvre Tiger Roll into a challenging position as December’s course and distance winner Easysland had begun to dictate the race from shortly after half-way.
The pair had it between themselves over the final few obstacles but, as they joined the racecourse proper for the final run, Jonathan Plouganou and Easysland had more in hand, winning in the end by 17 lengths as Tiger Roll settled for second best.
Tiger Roll’s record at the Cheltenham Festival remains a remarkable one, with his latest second adding to a pair of Cross Country victories and wins in the Triumph Hurdle (two-miles-one-furlong) and the National Hunt Chase (four-miles) previously.
Russell on the board again at Cheltenham
While Keith Donoghue was on board Tiger Roll at Cheltenham, it will be Davy Russell that takes over once more in the saddle come Aintree.
The Youghal rider continued his remarkable record in the Cotswolds as he rode Samcro to win Thursday’s Marsh Novices’ Chase for Elliott and Gigginstown; while he also partnered Chosen Mate to take Friday’s Grand Annual for the Cullentra handler.
He had, of course, steered hot favourite Envoi Allen to an impressive victory in the Ballymore earlier in the week, ensuring Elliott’s rising star remained unbeaten in the process.
Russell has partnered at least one Cheltenham Festival winner in every year since 2006, with last year’s Festival the sole exception and he remains one of the pillars of the Cotswolds experience.
The 40-year-old makes no secret of the special place that Cheltenham holds in his heart.
“Since I’ve been able to walk and talk my dad made this out to be a magical place, I’ve been lucky to witness that magic. It’s been great,” he said after winning the Grand Annual.
*Odds subject to change.