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.
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.
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.
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.
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.