Cheltenham Festival countdown starts now for Grand National star Tiger Roll

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GRAND National hero Tiger Roll returns to action at Cheltenham today in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase.

Gordon Elliott’s charge has packed a lot into his eight years to date, as he has also won at the Cheltenham Festival three times – in three different races.

I know it is a big ask off top weight. March (back at the Festival) is the race we want to win.

Gordon Elliott

That shows his versatility, but he had looked in the doldrums before springing back to life in March, winning over the cross-country course before going on to write his name into the Aintree history books.

“He is only eight, which is hard to believe,” said Elliott. “He has been a great servant to the yard and has really taken to the cross-country jumps well. It is something to look forward to again with him.

“This time last year he wasn’t easy to train. We had a few problems with him and I was scratching my head what route to go with him.

“We are looking forward to starting him off on Friday.

“I know it is a big ask off top weight. March (back at the Festival) is the race we want to win.”

Elliott also runs the 13-year-old Bless The Wings, who also ran a fine race at Aintree to finish third.

Josies Orders, a three-time winner over the course and distance, represents Enda Bolger, with Peter Fahey’s Bay Of Freedom and the Gearoid O’Loughlin-trained Jarob also making the journey over the Irish sea.

Midnight Shot and Fact Of The Matter complete the seven-runner field.

The Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase has an illustrious roll of honour, which includes Denman, Grands Crus and last year the ill-fated Finian’s Oscar.

Seven promising types line up on this occasion, with Nicky Henderson running Jenkins, who is already a winner over fences, and Mr Whipped, who is making his chasing debut.

Colin Tizzard’s White Moon returns after a wind operation, while Jerrysback is having his first outing for over 600 days for Philip Hobbs.

Count Meribel, Graasten and Le Breuil all have a win over fences to their name, with Ben Pauling hoping the latter fulfils his potential.

Pauling said: “Trying to give weight to a horse like Mr Whipped could prove tricky. But he’s always a horse I’ve thought a lot of and it’s nice to have a day he can prove how good he is.”

Pauling then gives a hurdling debut to Nestor Park in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.