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Tiger Roll: Should he have gone for the Grand National hat-trick?

The Gigginstown icon Tiger Roll bounced back to his best at Cheltenham yesterday



T3509E AINTREE, Liverpool, UK. 6th Apr, 2019. Tiger Roll winner of the 2019 Randox Grand National ridden by D N Russell. He becomes the first horse to since Red Rum 45 years ago to win the hurdles event race back-to-back. 40 runners, 30 fences and more than four-and-a-quarter miles, the National is the ultimate test for horses and riders.

The Cheltenham Festival has seen some of the greatest comebacks in racing history on its illustrious turf.

Sprinter Sacre returning after two seasons out to reclaim his Champion Chase Crown, Kauto Star becoming the first horse to regain the Gold Cup and Annie Power winning the Champion Hurdle after her crashing fall in the Mares’ race a year before are just some of the stories to arise from the National Hunt showpiece.

Wednesday saw another incredible resurgence from a Festival favourite, in the form of dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll.

Tiger Roll
Tiger Roll has now won an incredible five Cheltenham Festival race and two Grand National’s

The 11-year-old had not looked great this season, after being pulled up in November’s Cross Country Handicap Chase before finishing the last of six in the Boyne Hurdle, a race that he won two years previously.

With the announcement of the Grand National weights, Michael O’Leary declared his frustrations of Tiger Roll being put up at a mark of 166 and carrying a weight of 11st 9lbs, only a solitary 1lb below top weight.

A prolonged debate between O’Leary and the BHA handicapper was established, with the owner eventually making the decision to pull Tiger Roll out of the race completely.

It ended all hope of seeing the 11-year-old lining up alongside the legendary Red Rim in winning a hat-trick of Grand Nationals.

watch: tiger roll wins his second grand national in a row back in 2019 [credit: racing tv]

It was widely expected that Tiger Roll was to make his final Cheltenham bow in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, with several pundits wondering if the Gigginstown star had much left in the tank.

With the flag down, Keith Donoghue launched the 9/2 shot into the leading group of runners, switching up the usual tactics of keeping him midfield.

He kept in touch with Defi Des Carres, before pushing in front after the 22nd fence.

It was at that point that racing fans began to realise they were witnessing a magical moment, as Tiger Roll kept pulling further away from his rivals thanks to his slick jumping and lightning quick pace.

The 11-year-old blew apart the field and won by an incredible 18 lengths, putting himself in the history books with one of the all-time great racing comebacks.

Denise Foster’s talent joined the elite pair of Golden Miller and Quevega in winning five races at the Cheltenham Festival, becoming the first to do so over several contests.

Gigginstown House Stud boss Michael O’Leary was dissatisfied with Tiger Roll’s “unfair weight” for the 2021 renewal, thus withdrawing him

As much as impressive that comeback was, it was always going to end on the sad note, knowing that Tiger Roll will not be heading to the Grand National.

It is more of a loss for the fans, who will not be able to see him become an immortal in the racing world with a third win in the world’s most famous race.

Should have Tiger Roll gone for the Grand National? As much as his handicap weight can be argued, there is rarely ever a chance for a runner to go for a third straight win in this contest.

It is a real shame that after an incredible age-defying performance as such, it’s likely that the cross-country icon will not race on British soil again.

Horses jump a fence during the 2019 Grand National
Talks on Thursday morning suggest Tiger Roll may still head to Aintree this year, but for the Grade 1 Bowl Chase

Tiger Roll’s dual Grand National victories is could be the closest anyone will come to matching Red Red’s three wins for a long time to come.

Reece Charlton is a Content Writer at Low6 that specializes in horse racing. He is an avid hunter of value in the racing world, picking out longshots six days a week across the National Hunt and Flat cards on offer across the UK and Ireland. He keeps punters and race fans in the know with his racing expertise with previews and value picks for all the big cards and meetings.