Tiger Roll second in Cross Country Chase
Tiger Roll was unable to make it a hat-trick of wins in the 2020 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after he had to settle for second place behind Easysland.
As a result of the performance, Tiger Roll is now out to 10/1* to win the Randox Health Grand National next month as he bids to make history by becoming the first horse to win the race three years running.
His trainer Gordon Elliott stated he was pleased with his horse after he put up a strong defence of his crown.
He said: “We are happy, but once he is OK in the morning that is the most important thing.
“You’re always disappointed when you don’t win, but I said before the race the ground was a big worry. Keith said on that tacky ground he was never happy on him. On the better ground, he was good.
“In fairness to the winning jockey, he gave his horse a very good ride and took the sting out of us, we went a good gallop the whole way. Just the ground killed us, no excuse.
“If you go through his whole career, he is a horse that needs good ground.
“When you’re watching a race, you’re always hoping, but you could see going out on the last circuit across the heavy ground, normally he’d be running away at that stage.
“But he’s come a long way – in January we were only back cantering, so we’re happy.”
Under the hands of Keith Donoghue, Tiger Roll was always prominent in the Glenfarclas Cross Country field just behind the winner. When push came to shove, he was unable to pick up the leader who was scoring around the course for the second time this season.
The dual Grand National winner finished 17 lengths behind Easysland, but was 18 lengths ahead of the rest of the pack, as the front two drew clear from their rivals in the home straight at Prestbury Park.
Defending champion handed top weight for Aintree assignment
There were some concerns earlier this year that Tiger Roll would not get his chance to emulate the great Red Rum at Aintree before his connections gave him the green light after the weights launch.
Tiger Roll will need to carry 11st-10lb this year. That is 5lb more than he had on his back 12 months ago when he prevailed as the 4/1 favourite.
The allocation means Elliott’s runner will have the most weight in the field. No horse since Red Rum in 1977 has been able to successfully carry top weight to victory.
Delta Work was the only other horse given as much as 11st-10lb by the handicapper. However, his team have opted against taking their chance this year and will concentrate on the Cheltenham Gold Cup instead.
Former Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai is the closest horse to Tiger Roll in the weights. He has 2lb less on his back with an allocation of 11st-8b.
Despite the drift in the betting following his Cheltenham run, Tiger Roll is still the horse they all have to beat again. If he does come out on top once more, it will be one of the biggest stories the sport has produced over the last five decades.
*Odds subject to change.