Four-time Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll could be sent into retirement after his run in this year's Cross Country race at the meeting, according to his owners.
Tiger Roll has become a household name after also winning two Grand National on the bounce, the first horse since Red Rum to do so, and was expected to go for a historic third until the Aintree showpiece was cancelled because of the coronavirus last year. Despite that, the race is expected to take place again this year, and Tiger Roll was recently announced as one of the 106 entries for the world famous race on the 10th April, meaning the hat-trick bid is still a possibility.
However, after suffering defeat in the cross country race at Cheltenham last year, his owners have always played down another crack at the Grand National, and confirmed in recent days that this year's Cheltenham Festival could be the last time that we see him on a racecourse.
From The Horse's Mouth
Eddie O'Leary, who is the racing manager for Tiger Roll's owners, Gigginstown House Stud said: "Touch wood, he'll go for the Boyne Hurdle at Navan (February 21) next and then it will be the cross-country chase at Cheltenham.
"I think the November run was just one of those days. We didn't expect him to win or anything, but we didn't think he'd run that bad. There was no reason for it, maybe he had a headache, I couldn't tell you.
"With regards to the Grand National, he's still got a crazy weight. For some unknown reason he has this crazy rating, but he didn't even appear in the end-of-season classifications last year, yet he's got this rating of 168.
"When I queried it, I was told that was because it was a cross-country rating. Tiger Roll was beaten 17 lengths by Easysland off level weights (in March).
"I've always said 168 is crazy and there's no point in running in the National unless he's given a chance. We'd be absolutely thrilled if he could run to a mark of 168, but it makes no sense.
"Unless he's given a chance he'll probably be retired at Cheltenham if he runs badly, and maybe Cheltenham is the right place to retire him given his record there."
A retirement before the Grand National will be a disappointment to many racing fans, especially those who never got to see the success of Red Rum around Aintree.
Tiger Roll has been the modern day legend of the National, and has well and truly cemented his place in sporting history regardless of whether or not he makes it back for the big race in April.
Despite being bred to be a flat horse by Godolphin, he has continued to defy the odds over jumps and along with his two victories in the Grand National, he has also won four Cheltenham Festival races thanks to wins in the 2014 Triumph Hurdle and 2017 National Hunt Chase, plus Cross Country glory in 2018 and 2019.
Cheltenham Festival Betting
With just a matter of weeks until the 2021 Cheltenham Festival the betting for all the big races is already starting to hot up, with many bookmakers now offering non-runner, no bet on all their ante-post markets for the meeting.
As well as the NRNB promotion, many of the bookmakers listed at freebets.co.uk are also offering live streaming of the Cheltenham Festival, which gives you the chance to watch every one of the 28 Festival races live with your sports bookmaker. They’re also giving out new customer offers and odds boosts on a whole host of special bets and markets, such as Envoi Allen to win the Marsh Chase and Shishkin to win the Arkle.
In terms of the Gold Cup, there is already plenty of interest in the race with Al Boum Photo aiming to go for a hat-trick of victories. He is currently 3/1 with most of the online sports bookmakers, while the likes of Minella Indo, Santini, A Plus Tard and Royale Pagaille can all be backed at around the 10/1 mark.