Tiger Roll’s path to potential National hat-trick begins in Navan
O’Leary confirms most popular horse in training will be aimed at Aintree feature
Davy Russell riding Tiger Roll clears the final fence en route to victory in last year’s Grand National at Aintree. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Tiger Roll has got the green light from owner Michael O’Leary to bid for a historic Randox Aintree Grand National hat-trick in April.
Just three days after being rated no more than 50-50 to line up at Aintree, the Ryanair boss’s Gigginstown Stud team confirmed on Friday that Tiger Roll will target a third National success despite disappointment at his rating being compressed just 1lb for the big race.
Now begins the task of getting the most popular horse in training to Liverpool on April 4th and the first step is Sunday’s Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Tiger Roll won the Grade Two feature at 25-1 last year but on the back of an operation to remove a chip on a joint in November no such fireworks are expected this time.
“He badly wants a run [after his setback]. If he comes out of this fine it will then be Cheltenham for the Cross-Country again,” Gigginstown’s Eddie O’Leary said. “It will then be the National, hopefully.”
It will be interesting to examine the impact of Tiger Roll’s popularity in terms of Sunday’s attendance at Navan.
The Boyne Hurdle will certainly have a ‘National’ feel to it given that Magic Of Light, runner-up to Tiger Roll at Aintree last season, also lines up.
Darasso holds an entry in Saturday’s Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran and the former Stayers champion Penhill has failed to fire this term. So the role of ‘spoilsport’ could be destined for Kilfenora who makes the jump from handicaps.
Sunday’s other Grade Two, the Ten Up Novice Chase, contains just two winners over fences among its seven runners.
They include the Thyestes third Minella Fair although Captain Cj’s course and distance second to Minella Indo might make most popular appeal.
Gordon Elliott’s highly-touted £330,000 purchase Ballyadam makes his eagerly anticipated racecourse debut in the bumper at Navan. The five year old made a striking impression when winning his only point to point in October.
On Saturday a quartet of Gold Cup entries test their Cheltenham credentials in Gowran’s Red Mills Chase. Both Chris’s Dream and Real Steel are as low as 20-1 in some lists for chasing’s ‘Blue Riband’ event though both also hold Ryanair entries.
Conditions are sure to be testing which should suit the Troytown winner Chris’s Dream in particular but the trip looks likely to play to Real Steel’s strengths more.
His stable companion Cilaos Emery had his first reverse over fences when falling early in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown. He reverts to flights for the first time in over two years in the Trial Hurdle where last year’s winner Darasso awaits. He is a formidable opponent on heavy ground but ratings suggest Cilaos Emery can make the most of a 7lb difference between the pair.
Queens Brook won a point to point in Dromahane in November after which she went through the sales ring for £160,000. She should be tough to beat in Saturday’s bumper.