TIGER Roll is all set to defend the Randox Health Grand National next month, trainer Gordon Elliott has confirmed.
Confirmation comes after the diminutive horse was a mesmerising winner of last week’s Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham, his fourth win at the National Hunt Festival.
Elliott spelled out his intentions – subject to a final check with Gigginstown House Stud – prior to today’s announcement on the latest declarations for the world-famous race at Aintree on April 6.
With only the top 40 horses in the handicap going to post, High Eldwick trainer Sue Smith is hoping for a number of horses to be pulled out so her staying chaser Vintage Clouds – 61st in the line-up – makes the cut after a fine second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
Like Tiger Roll, Catterick trainer Phil Kirby’s new acquisition Blaklion is guaranteed a run.
“The horse has come out of the race very well, and the plan is to go for the National,” said Elliott. “I have to discuss it with Michael and Eddie (O’Leary, of Gigginstown), but I can’t see any reason why we won’t be going there.”
If successful Tiger Roll would become the first horse since the great Red Rum 45 years ago to win back-to-back Nationals. “I spoke to the English handicapper and he put him up 8lb in the ratings for winning the cross-country race,” said Elliott. “That only leaves him a pound wrong with last year.”
Vintage Clouds and Blaklion both feature among 110 entries for the Irish National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.