Tiger Roll faces tough challenge despite skipping Aintree’s bigger obstacles

Back-to-back Grand National winner in action over Mildmay track on Saturday

Tiger Roll will be in action at Aintree on Saturday in the Many Clouds Chase. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Tiger Roll will be in action at Aintree on Saturday in the Many Clouds Chase. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

A total of four Irish-trained runners will compete over Aintree’s famed fences on Saturday, yet the supreme Grand National performer of the modern era, Tiger Roll, won’t be among them.

Instead, Tiger Roll, the only back-to-back National winner since Red Rum, returns to action on the Mildmay track 35 minutes before the Unibet Becher Chase.

Aintree’s ‘park’ obstacles failed to inspire the 2018 and 2019 National hero on his last start in April when finishing all of 92 lengths behind Clan Des Obeaux.

It even prompted a stewards’ enquiry into Tiger Roll’s running and riding after suspicions that he “appeared to be tenderly handled throughout”.

That the explanations of connections were noted added another layer to the saga of disagreement between the British handicapper and Michael O’Leary as to how the Ryanair boss’s little star is rated.

The vehemence of the difference of opinion led to Tiger Roll missing out on a potential National hat-trick last season despite an inspired return to form over Cheltenham’s Cross-County obstacles a month beforehand.

Now the hugely popular veteran is set to line up off a British mark of 165 against horses such as the former Gold Cup winner Native River in the Many Clouds Chase, due off at 2.05.

That mark is 10lbs higher than how he is rated in Ireland and even if soft ground conditions weren’t against him he would look to face a massive task against seven opponents.

On his 44th career start, James Bowen will ride Tiger Roll for the first time.

It is his stable companion Ravenhill who will represent Gordon Elliott in the Becher, along with topweight Chris’s Dream and the Noel Meade pair of Snow Falcon and Tout Est Permis.

Jonjo O’Neill Jnr teams up with Chris’s Dream, who was still in contention when unseating his rider four out in last year’s National won by stable companion Minella Times.

Rachael Blackmore is instead on duty at Sandown where Captain Guinness takes his chance in the Grade One Tingle Creek.

Henry de Bromhead’s horse won a Grade Three at Naas a month ago and takes on his compatriot Chacun Pour Soi as well as Nube Negra, who heads a three-pronged home team.

Saturday’s domestic action at Navan sees Elliott with 21 declarations including seven in the featured €100,000 Bective Stud Handicap Hurdle alone.

Elliott has two in the Grade Two Novice Hurdle and has made no secret of his regard for the expensively bought course and distance winner Ginto.

He also has a pair of four-year-old starters in the Grade Three Klairon Davis Chase and Riviere d’Etel should prove hard to beat.

She dismissed some decent opposition on her last start at Punchestown and intriguingly also holds an entry in Sunday’s Grade Two novice chase for mares in Cork.

Dreal Deal, who put together a winning streak of six-in-a-row on the flat and over flights, culminating in the Moscow Flyer Hurdle last January, is set to go straight into Graded company for his chasing debut in the Klairon Davis.

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