Tiger Roll team ‘not playing games’

Tiger Roll Grand National 2018

Jockey Davy Russell jumps the last fence on Tiger Roll on his way to winning the Grand National horse race on the final day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England on April 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS @SCANPIX

Connections of Tiger Roll insist his bid for an historic third successive Randox Health Grand National win rely on the handicapper giving him a sensible mark.

The weights for the big race are due out on February 11 and Gigginstown House Stud say Tiger Roll will only run if the terms satisfy them.

Tiger tops entries

This week 105 entries were confirmed for the Randox Health-sponsored event, for which Tiger Roll is the general 5/1* market leader after winning the race for the last two years.

Victory on April 4 would see Tiger Roll equal the record set by the legendary Red Rum, who took the National three times between 1973 and 1977.

No horse has ever won three successive Grand Nationals, ensuring the Gordon Elliott-trained 10-year-old is the name on everyone’s lips as Aintree fever starts to grow.

Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary has previously suggested Tiger Roll’s chances of lining up at Aintree are between “slim and none” if the handicapper doesn’t give him sufficient leeway in the weights. Now, his racing manager and brother, Eddie, has reiterated their stance.

‘Not playing games’

In recent times the majority of Grand National top-weights have been encouraged to take part by the BHA handicapping team, often when given lower weights than their official marks decree.

That sort of leniency has not gone unnoticed by Eddie O’Leary and the Gigginstown operation.

“Whether Tiger Roll runs in the Grand National or not very much depends on the handicapper. We’re not playing games, not at all,” he warned.

“See More Business was compressed 8lb in 2001, Exotic Dancer was compressed 8lb in 2009 and in 2010 Alberta’s Run was 5lb lower.

“More recently, Synchronised in 2012 was 6lb lower, in 2013 Tidal Bay was compressed 11lb and the following year by 7lb.

“In 2015 Carlingford Lough was compressed 5lb and Bristol De Mai was 5lb lower last year. What does that tell you?”

Mark firmly in mind

Tiger Roll was rated 150 and carried 10st 13lb when landing his first Grand National success in 2018. Last year he bucked a 40-year trend when he followed up his Aintree win, this time off a mark of 159 last spring, carrying 11st 5lb to victory.

Now rated 172 over fences, he’s destined to have the burden of top-weight in the Grand National for the first time.

Carrying top-weight “is a given” admits O’Leary, who clearly expects the field to be compressed behind the history-seeking Tiger Roll.

If they aren’t happy come February 11, Gigginstown are prepared to shelve plans to run again.

O’Leary added: “I have a figure in my head but I’m not going to mention it. If he hits that figure, he runs, and if he doesn’t, he won’t be running.

“They’ve given every other top-weight a chance and we have a little sensation on our hands, who we’ve been very open about, and the fact he will not be asked to run in the race if the weights aren’t compressed.

“We don’t mind carrying top-weight, that’s a given, but the weights will need to be compressed in order for Tiger Roll to run.”

*odds subject to change.

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