Tiger Roll set for last dance at Cheltenham Festival as Grand National ruled out

The Tiger's set to roar one last time.

Tiger Roll jumping

Tiger Roll is set to retire after the Cross Country Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival having being ruled out of the Grand National by connections.

Gigginstown House Stud chief Michael O’Leary is refusing to give the dual Aintree hero a shot at equalling Red Rum’s record three victories in the world’s greatest steeplechase after being handed an “absurd” rating by the British handicapper.

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Tiger Roll, who was awarded a mark of 161 by BHA bigwig Martin Greenwood, missed out on last year’s renewal after a similar row over his place on the weights list.

O’Leary said: “Tiger Roll is now 12. He is clearly not as good as he was at eight or nine, yet the UK handicapper now rates him 2lb higher than his 159 rating in April 2019, when he won both the Boyne Hurdle and the Grand National.

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“This rating is absurd and unfair on a 12-year-old chaser. It is a pity that the handicapper won’t give Tiger Roll either a fair rating or a fair weight in the Grand National, where he could at least try to emulate Red Rum’s three Grand National wins.

“However, the handicapper sets the weights, and even if he is manifestly wrong in the case of Tiger Roll, there is nothing we can do about it other than remove him from the race, since we don’t believe it is fair or safe to ask him to carry close to top weight at the age of 12.

“Since the top two horses in the handicap won’t run at Aintree this year, Tiger Roll will have to carry either 11st 8lb, or 11st 9lb at the age of 12, which is three years after he carried 11st 5lb at the age of nine to win the great race in April 2019.”

He added: “Since we are responsible for the welfare of Tiger Roll, we must protect him from the idiotic opinion of this handicapper. We therefore regret to announce that he will not run in this year’s Grand National.

“Instead, Tiger Roll will be trained for the Cross Country at Cheltenham and there is every likelihood that win, lose or draw, this will be his last racecourse appearance. He will then return home for his well-earned retirement here in Gigginstown for the rest of his days.

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“It’s sadly clear from his ratings that this handicapper doesn’t want Tiger Roll to run in this year’s Grand National, he won’t give him a fair chance, and sadly, the race will be the poorer for his absence.”

Tiger Roll is the favourite in Paddy Power’s Non Runner Money Back betting market for the Cross Country Chase from Prengarde and 2020 winner Easysland.

He has run twice this season, pulling up in the Many Clouds Chase in December before finishing 14th of 17 runners in last month’s Navan Handicap Hurdle.

Days after being ruled out of last year’s Grand National, Tiger Roll demolished the Cross Country field by 18l to land his fifth Cheltenham Festival win.

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