The chance to create history doesn’t come along that often in life.
But connections of Tiger Roll are considering sidestepping their own day of destiny by removing their prized asset from the Grand National.
The stayer would be eyeing a hat-trick of wins in the Aintree showpiece – the first horse in history to achieve that feat, and potentially the first since Red Rum to win three editions of the National.
However Michael O’Leary, who owns Tiger Roll, claimed his star was being unfairly treated by the handicapper, and that he wouldn’t risk the eleven-year-old’s health by carrying such a big weight.
O’Leary told Nick Luck on Racing UK’s Luck On Sunday that he may instead target the Irish National if the handicapper does not ease Tiger Roll down through the weights ahead of the April flagship race.
Highly rated by those in the know for obvious rating, Tiger Roll’s rating of 168 will likely mean he carries top weight in the Grand National, and for a small, ageing horse there could be repercussions to his welfare if the Aintree renewal is as chaotic and physically demanding as normal.
O’Leary even mentioned the possibility of retirement if his horse – who will still be aimed at the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – is not treated more appropriately by the handicapper.
“The options are we are possibly looking at retirement or we may look at an entry in the Irish Grand National, where I think he’d be more fairly weighted where his rating should be,” the Irishman said.
“The handicapper has unfairly weighted Tiger Roll for the last two years in the UK. He’s rated around 170 there and last won the Grand National off 159, and he’s run four times since and not finished in the frame.
“He was beaten by Easysland at Cheltenham last year by 17 lengths off level weights – he is now rated 167 and yet somehow Tiger Roll is rated higher than he is.”
Opportunity Knocks for Percy
The owner confirmed that Tiger Roll WON’T run in the National if he is rated at 160 or higher come April, and that his Festival outing might be the least of his career – O’Leary believes the horse is ‘not in love with the game anymore’ following a handful of below-par efforts since his last National triumph.
That would certainly open up the Grand National betting market, with former Cheltenham Festival hero Presenting Percy likely to capture much of punters’ interest.
The RSA Chase champion had been touted for an assault on the Gold Cup, however a leg infection has convinced Gordon Elliott to give him more time to rest – opening the door for a Grand National entry.
Others of interest include high-quality chasers like Battleoverdoyen and Delta Work, who have been declared for the National, while three-time winner Trevor Hemmings will be saddling Cloth Cap and Lake View Lad.
Burrows Saint, the 2019 Irish National champion, and former Aintree runner-up Anibale Fly could both also start, as could the outstanding Easysland, who downed Tiger Roll at Cheltenham in 2020.
However Blaklion, a former favourite in the betting for the National, may miss out due to injury, with trainer Dan Skelton claiming ‘if we can, we will’ in reference to his veteran’s entry.