History-Maker Tiger Roll Can Deliver at Grand National
Back in mid-November, the 2018 Grand National winner, Tiger Roll, made his first appearance of the season at Cheltenham Racecourse. He put in an average performance, not terrible by any means, but finished fourth from seven runners and never really bothered the eventual winner, Josie’s Orders.
After that tepid performance, Tiger Roll floated out to around 25/1 to win next week’s Grand National. He was still among the favourites, but money was being pushed elsewhere in the markets. Thoughts turned to horses like, One For Arthur, who was set to make a comeback after a long hiatus following his 2017 victory in Europe’s richest handicap race.
However, today as racegoers finalise their plans for the Aintree Festival, Tiger Roll is given odds of just 3/1 by William Hill to win a second successive Grand National. To put that into perspective, 3/1 would be the shortest price for a winner since 1862, when The Huntsman triumphed at the same price. Not even Red Rum, who Tiger Roll aims to emulate next week, had a price as low as 3/1 for any of his three victories.
So, what has changed since that bight late-Autumn day when Tiger Roll struggled to keep the pace, and today when he has become the hottest favourite for the Grand National in the modern era?
Boyne Hurdle win was impressive
Well, he really caught the eye in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle a couple of months ago. It’s a race not suited for Tiger Roll’s particular skillset, and one guesses that Gordon Elliott chose it to give his horse a run out, but Tiger Roll tore up the script and won it anyway, much to the delight of those who had backed him at 25/1.
Then came the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Tiger Roll was aiming for his fourth victory at the Prestbury Park showcase, his second successive in the Glenfarclas Chase. He delivered with aplomb, after a masterful ride by Keith Donoghue. It was one of those races where the crowd and the rest of the field knew who was winning from start to finish. If anything, Tiger Roll didn’t look like he broke a sweat, despite the almost four miles of ground he had to cover.
After Cheltenham, the bookies took a sledgehammer to Tiger Roll’s odds, pushing down to 6/1. Then the money started pouring in from those wanting to cash in on the ante-post price. That’s left him ranging from about 3/1 now up to 4/1 with Betfair and a couple of others. You can still get free bets for Grand National in April 2019 from top bookies, using one on Tiger Roll while he remains available at 4/1 seems sensible.
Anibale Fly can challenge
Of course, winning successive Grand Nationals is not easy, and Tiger Roll has some very stiff competition. Anibale Fly, who has now finished third and second respectively in the last two Gold Cups, must be respected and looks tempting at 12/1. Blaklion, often mentioned as a potential winner of this race, is found at 40/1 with Ladbrokes. He skipped Cheltenham with a view to getting ready for Aintree. Others, like Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad, available at 16/1 and 20/1 respectively, should take some backing.
But, for those at the races at Aintree, the biggest cheers will be reserved for Tiger Roll. His performances down the years have made him a hero, an almost cult following from racing fans as he tends to save his best for the big races. On Saturday evening he could transform from hero horse to modern legend.