THE owners of dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll have raised the tantalising prospect of the now five-time Cheltenham Festival winner lining up at Aintree next month.
They are contemplating a tilt at the Grade One Betway Bowl on the opening day of the Merseyside meeting after the 11-year-old won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase by 18 lengths on Wednesday.
It comes after Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary and his brother Eddie, who run Gigginstown House Stud, withdrew Tiger Roll from the Randox Grand National earlier this month after being unhappy with his 11st 9lb handicap mark.
This was the horse’s third victory in the Cross Country Chase after successes in 2018 and 2019. He also won National Hunt Chase in 2017 and the JCB Triumph Hurdle as long ago as 2014.
Yet, on the basis of the wonder horse’s latest run, the BHA handicapper had been more than generous with his assessment.
Tiger Roll is currently in the care of Denise Foster while regular trainer Gordon Elliott serves a six-month suspension.
However it was Tiger Roll’s enthusiasm from the start under Keith Donoghue that came as such a pleasant surprise following a series of lacklustre runs following his second National win in 2020.
“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,” said Eddie O’Leary.
“Without getting too mad about him, I don’t think there’s been too many like him. Before this race came along, he kind of chucked racing.
“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 (Cheltenham) 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, retirement is off the table – he’s loving life and while he is we’ll listen to him. The Tiger we saw this week, you’d have to give him 10 out of 10.”
Meanwhile Nicky Henderson recorded a landmark 70th Festival winner when Chantry House won the opening Grade One Marsh Novices’ Chase under Nico de Boinville as the previously unbeaten Envoi Allen, another of the great hopes of Irish racing, crashed out.
However the most enterprising winning of ride of the week came when Allaho took apart a quality field to make virtually all in the Ryanair Chase under the all-conquering Rachael Blackmore. Alloho’s win was also Blackmore’s fourth Grade One of the week. her all-conquering week then continued with Telmesomethinggirl in the Mares’ Novices Hurdle and she rides A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup today.
There was a surprise in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle when Flooring Porter made all for Ireland under Danny Mullins with 2019 winner Paisley Park third and Yorkshire’s Sam Spinner pulled up.
It was a first Festival winner for jockey Danny Mullins who previously had five seconds to his name. He only got the mount hours beforehand after regular rider Jonathan Moore declared himself unfit following a fall earlier in the week. Moore, a former winner of Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase on Irish Cavalier, felt he could not do justice to the horse and there were poignant scenes as he helped lead Flooring Porter and Mullins into the winners’ enclosure.
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