Tiger Roll’s bid for Grand National Immortality in Jeopardy

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Tiger Roll’s latest appearance at Cheltenham’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase ended in bitter disappointment for trainer Gordon Elliott, with jockey Robbie Power opting to pull him up halfway through the race. The long-anticipated return of Tiger Roll was billed as a chance for him to overcome Easysland, the horse which pipped him at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Yet from the outset Tiger Roll never appeared settled on the course. Post-race, Power admitted that although “he was travelling” he failed to show “a cut at any of his fences”. His lack of rhythm alarmed Power, as well as his connections, with Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for Tiger Roll’s owners Gigginstown House Stud, also wondering if father time has caught up with him in the last nine months.

O’Leary described his race as “disappointing” and said that it was the “first sign” that Tiger Roll was displaying that he’d had enough of racing. O’Leary refuted claims that Tiger Roll had been brought to Cheltenham against his wishes, adding that trainer Gordon Elliott “was happy to go over there” and race.

Following that disappointment, O’Leary also insisted that Tiger Roll’s rating will “have to be readjusted” from its “completely crazy” high by the handicappers. Before the off at Cheltenham this month, Tiger Roll was still running at a higher rating and carrying more weight than Easysland, who defeated him by some 17 lengths at March’s Festival. The feeling is that unless the handicappers bring Tiger Roll down a notch, it would be a virtually impossible task for the ageing champion to go again in the Grand National at Aintree in 2021.

With the National Hunt season now in full swing, the attention for many punters is turning to the 2021 Grand National antepost markets. The premium antepost tipsters such as Simon Walker are already weighing up the likely contenders and putting them under constant scrutiny. The odds are likely to move considerably if Gordon Elliott feels that it’s no longer fair to enter Tiger Roll, who may not have the hunger to improve upon his back-to-back National successes.

The likely contenders for the 2021 Grand National

The Earl of Derby Stand
The Earl of Derby Stand

With huge question marks over Tiger Roll’s entry into the 2021 Grand National, it leaves the door wide open for a new champion to make their mark. Who are the likely contenders to prevail around Aintree next year?

One of the most interesting candidates is the Willie Mullins-trained Burrows Saint. The Mullins yard succeeded in the National back in 2005 when Hedgehunter prevailed. Burrows Saint could be the next potential winner, having cantered to victory in the 2019 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. By the time the National comes around in April 2021, Burrows Saint will be eight years old. Three of the last five Nationals have been won by eight-year-olds.

If you are looking for a horse with proven staying pedigree, Potters Corner also looks an interesting choice. One of the finest prospects to emerge from the yard of Christian Williams, Potters Corner has won both the Midlands National and the Welsh National. He also prevailed in the 2020 Virtual Grand National, with the computer program deeming him to have the ideal attributes to last the course. Some might be put off by the fact that Potters Corner will be 11 years old by April 2021, but he is a relatively lightly raced sort.

Any Second Now is another Irish stayer that remains largely unexposed by the handicappers. They were relatively high in the antepost markets for the 2020 National, so there is every chance that the winner of the Kim Muir at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival can have a major say on proceedings.

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