The “people’s horse”, as the double-winner of the Randox Health has been dubbed, is gathering his strength for next spring’s challenge. Tiger Roll, the wildly popular four-hoofed champion that sent Aintree wild in 2019, will make a dash next year for the third victory in a row. If you are wondering who to bet on in Grand National be aware that we could see a historic hat-trick in April 2020. Tiger Roll now has to pause until the beginning of next year, after having a chip surgically removed from a joint. But he is going to be up and running in time for the most famous race in the world.
News broke on November 15th that the Grand National equine hero was undergoing surgery. Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown House Stud that owns Tiger Roll, admitted that it was “more than a little bit of setback”. O’ Leary added that the horse is very sound and performed perfect excercise just the day before the joint problem was diagnosed.
Hopefully, the nine-year-old will be back in action next February, when he is expected to compete in the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle. He got a victory there too, in the past season, before moving on to his second consecutive laurel in Aintree. Nearly half a century has gone by since the triple victory of the legendary Red Rum in the Grand National, in 1973-74. After Tiger Roll’s feat last April, expectations are running high that he will make history in the 2020 race.
Tiger Roll has a shining six seasons of victories in his career by now. The Irish-bred thoroughbred has become so popular that he earned himself a full book, “Tiger Roll: The Little Legend” published by Racing Post on November 1st 2019. His owners Gigginstown House Stud, trainer Gordon Elliott and principal jockeys Davy Russell and Keith Donoghue are all leading characters in the book.
Somewhat smaller than standard but with an enormous heart is the way this bay gelding with a white star is most often described. Four victories at the Cheltenham Festival since 2014, in three different types of races (Triumph Hurdle, National Hunt Chase and Glenfarclas Chase) are quite respectable. But the real jump to stardom for Tiger Roll was the back-to-back Grand National victory on April 6th. Punters bet an amazing £150m on that race. Jockey Davy Russell led the favourite to victory on a field of 40 horses in the most famous steeplechase race in the world.
Now the public is hungry for more. This is why manager O’ Leary is taking no risks. He has already made it clear that if February turns out to be too early for a full recovery, Boyne Hurdle will be off the schedule until 2021. Tiger Roll in this case will head straight for the Country Cross in Cheltenham in March, ridden by Keith Donoghue. Then he will get ready to partner with Davy Russell again on April 4th and make history.