Having racked up four Cheltenham Festival victories, a Grand National and even a Grade 2 hurdle win Tiger Roll’s place in horse racing history was already assured but by winning a second National at Aintree on Saturday he has truly now entered the realms of legend.
The People’s Horse Creates Unity
The tiny Tiger with a massive heart won the £1million showpiece for the second successive time, a feat not achieved since Red Rum back in 1974.
By winning the race three times in total Red Rum became synonymous with Aintree, is buried under the turf there and still has his races replayed again and again to keep his amazing memory fresh. Now, finally, we have a horse worthy of being mentioned in the same regard and it’s come just at the right time.
With some badly researched and ill-informed tripe having been written in a form tantamount to animal’s rights sponsored-delusion, the Grand National and horse racing in general had received some bad press in the run-up to this race but once again it delivered, proving this event unites the country at a time when so many other subject matters divide it.
Bad news did filter through when it transpired that Up For Review, trained by Willie Mullins, suffered a fatal injury at the first fence but much to the surprise of the uninitiated, this was the first horse lost in the race since 2012 as safety for these beautifully cared for animals increases all the time.
Bad Day for the Bookies
The Liverpool crowd were clearly well aware they were on hand to see something special, as the 70,000-strong gathering welcomed back this equine superstar as though a god.
Jockey Davy Russell, the epitome of coolness under pressure, had the job of guiding round the shortest priced National favourite since Rummy himself at an incredibly short 4/1 but despite the gruelling 30-fence, 4¼-mile trip and the ever-present prospect of fallers getting in the way, the result was obvious in the closing stages as it appeared the Tiger could go round again if asked!
As the shortest priced winner in 100 years, Tiger Roll cost the bookmakers millions with many believing Gordon Elliott’s runner was a banker bet. Around £250million was paid out on the Tiger who is already the 8/1 favourite for next year’s race, though it would be wise to keep your money in your pocket for now.
At nine years old and clearly only getting better at this stage, hopes are high among race fans that Tiger Roll can return to attempt an unprecedented third straight National victory but that appears far from certain at present.
Owner David O’Leary suggested that he will return to Cheltenham to attempt a third Cross Country Chase win and if successful, could be retired. However he did offer a glimmer of hope when saying that next year’s plans will be worked out only then; next year. Here’s hoping.