Tiger Roll Shows Heart of a Lion to Land Grand National Glory
Michael O’Leary has spent fortunes amassing one of the most impressive strings in National Hunt racing, but it is a relative bargain buy who has proved to be one of his greatest purchases.
Tiger Roll was picked up by the owner for a fee in the region of £80,000. During his time in the colours of O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, the gelding has won at three Cheltenham Festivals and on Saturday he plundered victory in the Grand National.
The wining distance was a rapidly diminishing head, as Pleasant Company rallied on the run to the line, but it was the most professional of performances by Tiger Roll.
The eight-year-old has been called some rude names in the past, form experts Timeform describe him as unreliable and gave him their famous squiggle – which is their way of saying he’s one to avoid.
It’s clear that Timeform do not get everything right, as Tiger Roll has a Triumph Hurdle, National Hunt Chase, Cross Country Chase and now a Grand National on his CV.
“To win three different races at the Cheltenham Festival and then go on and win an English National, it’s just unbelievable. If he never does another thing for us, he doesn’t owe us much,” winning trainer Gordon Elliott said, per At The Races.
“He’s a bit of a character and he probably is a real favourite in the yard. All the kids that come in at the weekend, this is the horse they can ride the whole time because he’s so quiet. He starts and stops.”
There was no fluke about his win at Aintree. It was attractional stuff, only 12 of the 38 runners finished. But amid all the chaos, the diminutive Tiger Roll jumped impeccably in behind the leaders, travelled supremely well and took up the running at the last before bounding clear.
He looked set for a comfortable victory under Davy Russell, but the petrol gauge hit empty 100 yards from the line and it was agonising stuff for his supporters as he held on in a photo finish at odds of 10/1.
There are more high-profile horses in O’Leary’s ownership, Samcro being the highest profile of the lot, but he has a long way to go to emulate Tiger Roll.
It’s highly likely that Elliott will map out a route back to Aintree next year, possibly via the Cross Country Chase at the Festival, and on the evidence of his win he could stand an excellent chance of becoming the first horse since Red Rum to win the Grand National on multiple occasions.