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12 Dec 2019

Can Tiger Roll complete the Grand National hat-trick?

Not since Red Rum in 1977 has a horse achieved a hat-trick of wins at the Aintree Grand National. In fact, since 1978, the race had been won by a different horse every year. That was until Tiger Roll managed back-to-back wins in 2018 and 2019. The Irish thoroughbred trained by Gordon Elliott will be looking to make the history books and better the feat of legendary Red Rum next April by winning three races in a row. But can the nine-year-old make his comeback from injury at one of the biggest meetings in the racing calendar? 

Since winning the 2019 Grand National as the 4/1 favourite, Tiger Roll hasn’t raced. Last month, he had a bone chip removed from a joint and has been spending time in the yard recovering. Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary and trainer Elliott both hope that Tiger Roll will recover in time for February. O’Leary told reporters: “It will rule him out of Christmas and we hope to make the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February. If not, it will be straight to Cheltenham." 

O’Leary had previously said the chances of Tiger Roll completing a historic hat-trick were unlikely. He said: “If Tiger Roll goes for the Grand National at Aintree, I would be mad to look at anyone else other than Davy to ride him. He rides Aintree like a master, but the chances of Tiger Roll going back to Aintree are slim and none.” 

It is not a view shared by trainer Elliott who has openly said that Tiger Roll’s number one target will be the National. He commented: “He was at full fitness and almost ready to run when it happened. It’s not ideal, but if it had happened in January or February, it would be a lot worse.” 

He continued: "Obviously Michael O'Leary owns the horse – he'll make the final decision – but in my mind, this is the race we've been training him for since last year. The Randox Health Grand National is the plan." 

Tiger Roll had a good season, winning all three races that he was entered into. Beating Off You Go by four lengths in the Boyne Hurdle in February, the gelding went on to win the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham Festival by an incredible 22 lengths, before the remarkable second success at the National. Horse racing betting odds already favour Tiger Roll at this early stage and he can be found at a price of 8/1, miles ahead of Burrows Saint, Elegant Escape and Rathvinden all at 20/1. Tiger Roll’s inaugural Grand National win was a memorable one, beating Pleasant Company by a head in a photo finish. It was particularly special for jockey Davy Russell who was competing in his 14th National but had never placed better than third. While the Irish thoroughbred wasn’t the outright favourite, he was one of the front-runners and the following year went into the Aintree race as the overwhelming favourite. Much like the 2019 race, it is believed that Tiger Roll will carry more weight ahead of April, but given his form last season, there’s no doubt he will remain the favourite in the lead-up to the race. 

As we have seen in recent years, the Grand National is unpredictable, with the favourite rarely winning. There will be pressure on horse, jockey and trainer alike to pull off a remarkable feat. If Tiger Roll competes – and wins – in the Boyne Hurdle and Cross Country Chase as he did this year, there’s no reason why he cannot go on to emulate Red Rum. O’Leary played down his chances before this year’s race and looks to be doing the same ahead of 2020.