Tiger Roll etched his place in history as one of the finest horses to grace jumps racing after winning the Grand National for the second year in a row. The bay gelding produced an outstanding performance at Aintree to beat out his nearest rival Magic of Light to claim the victory by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
Tiger Roll becomes an Aintree legend...— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 6, 2019
He's the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum 45 years ago 👏👏👏
Follow: https://t.co/8pvEbGaVAQ #grandnational #GrandNational2019 pic.twitter.com/j2dcOj8ZU7
Gordon Elliott’s charge was not troubled in the contest as Davy Russell once again timed his surge to perfection. Whereas the rest of the field faded down the stretch, Tiger Roll peaked at the right moment to pull away to cross the line without the drama of 2018 to win the Randox Health Grand National. The nine-year-old became the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to win the event in back-to-back seasons. Elliott and his owners are now faced with a huge decision about his future.
Not even Red Rum managed to achieve three wins on the bounce, although he still does hold the record for most triumphs at the National. Tiger Roll could join Ginger McCain’s charge on three wins should he compete in the event next term.
He has age on his side, while a victory could even see him eclipse the legendary horse as the greatest competitor in the history of the National. The nine-year-old is backed in the early Betway odds at 8/1 to achieve the feat, and should he remain healthy, there is no reason that he could not at least compete for the crown once more.
Red Rum’s First Aintree Failure
There are lessons for Tiger Roll and Elliott to heed given the last time a horse tried to win three races on the bounce. Red Rum won the 1973 Grand National with an outstanding performance, beating out Crisp with a surge down the stretch after it appeared as though the Australian thoroughbred was going to romp to a comfortable victory. He returned the following season with a burgeoning reputation, and his duel with Scout was expected to go down to the wire. However, Red Rum got the better of his rivals, including L’Escargot, who did provide a threat during the contest.
McCain’s charge had the kick when it mattered most to pull away from the field to clinch the win. Red Rum returned in 1975 at the age of 10, having also won the Scottish National after his victory at Aintree. He was considered the favourite for the contest ahead of L’Escargot, but on this occasion, he lost out to his rival, who finished 15 lengths ahead of Red Rum. The bay gelding was carrying more weight than his opponents, carrying 12 stone for the event due to his superior quality.
It proved to be decisive as L’Escargot benefited down the stretch, carrying a lighter load to claim his maiden triumph. Red Rum finished second again in 1976 before notching his third crown in 1977 at 11st 8lb, producing a storming ride to finish 25 lengths ahead of second-place Churchtown Boy. So, there are warning signs for Tiger Roll and his team to learn from if attempting a third successive win.
Tiger Roll’s Challenge
🐯 Gordon Elliott on Tiger Roll: "The horse has come out of the race very well, and the plan is to go for the English National."— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) March 19, 2019
No horse has won the Grand National back-to-back since Red Rum in 1974!#Aintree pic.twitter.com/bnx0A5Wog5
Elliott’s charge has passed every test that has been thrown at him during his career. He has taken delight at being challenged on the major stage. Elliott’s charge has won four times at Cheltenham Festival, including back-to-back victories in the Cross Country Chase. In his last appearance at the Cross Country Chase, he hammered the rest of the field to canter to the win by 25 lengths. Tiger Roll’s owners have already claimed that their charge will be entered into the race once again, dispelling the notion of entering him into the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Keeping the bay gelding in a similar pattern to the last two years will be crucial in an attempt to win a third Grand National. He has proven to be an adaptable horse, winning races of different lengths at different racecourses around the United Kingdom and Ireland and at different weights. Tiger Roll would not be deterred by the prospect of adding further weight to his build.
The presence of Anibale Fly helped his cause in the 2019 National as he weighed five pounds less than the French-bred horse. In 2020, he is surely likely to be the top candidate in the handicap and will, therefore, be forced into the heavier weight bracket, although there could be other challengers to emerge, especially from the English yards. It would be another test for Elliott’s charge, although he has already proved that he can meet any test that comes his way.
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