A maiden race over one mile and six furlongs on the Flat is not the best preparation for a jumps campaign that could end with an historic third win in the Grand National.
However, the phrase “blowing away the cobwebs” is being used for Tiger Roll’s first run of the season at Navan yesterday (October 22, 2020). The two-time winner was unchanged as the 16/1 favourite for the National after finishing an uninspiring sixth of nine, having been slow out of the alien stalls.
Connections are towing the line that the cross country chase at the Cheltenham Festival is Tiger Roll’s first objective. They will then take a view about the most famous steeplechase in the sport.
Tiger Roll is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, the racing arm of Michael O’Leary, the CEO of budget airline, Ryanair. He famously has a free bar on the Liverpool to Dublin flight after a National win. The drinks will be on O’Leary again if Tiger Roll makes history.
The weight allocation for the Aintree spectacular remains a potential issue but surely Tiger Roll will be given a shot at sporting immortality. The owner’s threats not to run if he got too big a weight last time around always sounded like hollow posturing. There has never been a three-time winner of the National in three successive renewals. The bid was thwarted because there was no race in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Tiger Roll was slow out of the stalls at Navan and never got into the race. However, the 10-year-old did become attached to the rest of the field but was over 29 lengths adrift of the winner at the line.
This second career run on the level will be a distant memory if Tiger Roll wins the Grand National next April. That will become closer to a reality when the handicapper announces the weights in February.