The Grand National is right around the corner – but one big name will be missing from this year’s showpiece.
In disappointing news for racing fans, dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll will not seek to attempt to win the world’s most famous race for a record-equalling third time, his owners Gigginstown House Stud revealed earlier this month.
The 11-year-old – an emphatic winner of the Grand National in 2018 and 2019 – was withdrawn as a result of his ” unfair weight.”
His absence will mean he will not get the chance to emulate the legendary Red Rum by winning a third National.
Instead, the €400,000 Fairyhouse prize on April 5 or the Grade 1 Betway Bowl at Aintree three days later are under consideration.
At the Cheltenham Festival last week, Tiger Roll travelled supremely well throughout the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and powered across the line 18 lengths in front – claiming his fifth win at the meeting overall.
It was an exuberant display from the National Hunt great who was comprehensively beaten in the race 12 months ago, when sent off an odds on favourite.
Eddie O’Leary spoke on Tiger Roll’s recent Cheltenham triumph, as well as the decision to take him out of the Grand National.
He told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “He seemed to jump off with a big smile on his face and as the race went on, he seemed to get better and better.
“It was an amazing training performance by Gordon to get him back, and an amazing training performance by all at Cullentra to get him there yesterday in that kind of shape.
“We’ve absolutely no regrets about taking him out of the National as his rating is just too high.
“We’re probably going to have to run him at a park track, we’re even considering the Betway Bowl at Aintree.
“The way the horse won at Cheltenham, retirement is off the table – he’s loving life and while he is we’ll listen to him.”
Why isn’t Tiger Roll running in the Grand National?
Ryanair boss and Tiger Roll owner Michael O’Leary withdrew the 11-year-old from the Grand National.
The Grand National is a handicap race – meaning horses carry different weights.
The better horses carry more weight and vice versa.
O’Leary believes the weight Tiger Roll was assigned to carry – some 7lb higher than when he won the race in 2019 – was “patently unfair”.
Tiger Roll was given a mark of 166 meaning he would carry 11st 9lb if running at Aintree, just a pound below top weight Bristol De Mai.
O’Leary said the weight assigned was “unjustified and does not reflect the horse’s age or form”.
He added: “The handicapper has decided to rate Tiger Roll on his reputation rather than his form, but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden.”