When the handicapper revealed his weights for the 2022 Grand National, tongues were set furiously wagging.
Tiger Roll, who could match Red Rum’s extraordinary feat of winning the Aintree showpiece on three separate occasions, was handed a mark of 11st 4lb – less than when he won the Grand National in 2018 and ’19, and the same weight as last year’s champion Minella Times.
It left Gordon Elliott, the 12-year-old’s trainer, bullish that the Gigginstown House Stud ownership team would let the horse have his shot at history.
“We’ll see how Cheltenham [Festival] goes, but he has got a nice weight so the Grand National could be on the agenda,” the Irishman confirmed. “There is still more in him, and we are certainly not finished yet.”
However, hopes of a three-peat have been dashed by Michael O’Leary, Tiger Roll’s owner. Notoriously hard to please, he has blasted the ‘idiotic opinion’ of the handicapper Martin Greenwood, and confirmed his famous charge would not run at Aintree.
“We don’t believe it is fair or safe to ask him to carry close to top weight at the age of 12,” O’Leary revealed.
“Since we are responsible for the welfare of Tiger Roll, we must protect him from the idiotic opinion of this handicapper.
“We therefore regret to announce that he will not run in this year’s Aintree Grand National.”
Greenwood, meanwhile, has defended his decision to rank Tiger Roll amongst the heavier horses in the National weights.
“As I keep telling people, you can’t just ignore his win in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last season, which was less than 12 months ago when he easily defeated two good horses in Easysland and Some Neck.”
It all means that the Cheltenham Festival may be the last chance we get to see Tiger Roll in active competition.
Any Second Now Gets the Timeform Nod
The Timeform weight-adjusted ratings are always eagerly anticipated ahead of any big handicap race, and they have come down on the side of the ante-post betting favourite for the Grand National in 2022.
Any Second Now, who was third in the race last year, has been rated at 183 in the rankings – despite the fact he hasn’t won since March, and that came over a distance of just two miles.
“Any Second Now shaped like very much the best horse at the weights in last year’s race, and could be considered an unlucky loser given he lost his place completely around halfway when badly hampered by a faller,” the firm’s handicapper, Phil Turner, explained.
Chantry House, the Mildmay and Cotswold Chase winner, and Cotswold runner-up Santini have been rated next best at 182, while five horses – Escaria Ten, Lostintranslation, Fiddlerontheroof, Eklat De Rire and Commodore – round out the top five at 181.
Turner also identified another horse that might be of interest to punters. “Irish raider Noble Yeats is another interesting runner – his chasing debut win represents strong form, whilst the way he’s been campaigned since has clearly been designed at getting him qualified for the National without damaging his mark too much,” he said.
“His recent sale to the Waley-Cohen family is hardly a negative too, given Sam Waley-Cohen’s excellent record over the National fences.”