So let’s get the positives out of the way first. TIGER ROLL recorded a career-best effort on my private ratings when romping to victory in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, based on his margin of victory and the relative positions of those in behind; a long, long way behind.
I thought he looked in amazing condition in the parade ring following on from his seasonal debut success in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan and the way he went through the race was a sight to see. He clearly relishes his racing, ears pricked all the way around, and his athleticism is simply outstanding.
What is pertinent about his career is that the faster his rivals have galloped in a race the more he seems to enjoy it, which plays into his hands. Tiger Roll also seems to caress his obstacles, never standing off too far and that has always been the way to treat the Grand National fences, get into them and ping them. Efficiency being the name of the game.
This pony of a horse would possibly have struggled jumping around the ‘old’ national course of stiffer fences and more severe drops. But at Cheltenham, it was his high cruising speed that enabled him to lead five from home, and his great balance and speed that saw him gallop clear of some ‘slow’ rivals. Would we have seen a different story had Tiger Roll been pressed for longer or not had such a smooth passage into the race? The answer is probably ‘yes’.
Pressure breeds mistakes and mistakes pulls the energy from within.
I am not saying it wasn’t a superb performance, but everything went his way against let’s be honest, slow horses, and Tiger Roll took full advantage, but crucially without being pressurised.
Like many though, I cannot entertain the thought of backing him at a short price for the Aintree Grand National on April 6 but if you do fancy him to complete a remarkable double then you have to consider ANIBALE FLY (10/1)*, who is 4lbs better off for being beaten just over 11 lengths in 2018, but more importantly was given a very strange ride then.
He comes here fresher than 12 months ago, and like Tiger Roll, off the back of a career-best effort when second in the Gold Cup (above) so what is there not to like about his chance here at double the price?
As I mentioned in my first preview when the weights came out, I really like Gordon Elliott’s MONBEG NOTORIOUS (50/1), but that was off the back of two startlingly poor runs this season. However, he stepped up considerably last time out when a never nearer eye-catching sixth in the Leinster National and there are certainly worse 50/1 shots entered in the Aintree marathon.
One of my initial selections, his stablemate Dounikos was this week nominated by Mr Elliot to run in the Irish equivalent, so I’ll have to revise that selection but the beauty now is that Paddy have gone non runner no bet a fortnight out from the great race.
LAKE VIEW LAD (12/1) was another to enhance his chance for the big race when he powered up the hill to finish third in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival and I suspect he could be a Grade One chaser in the making and will relish the extra yardage in Liverpool. If he negotiates the obstacles he has to be a player although both Tiger Roll and Anibale Fly have that vital advantage of Grand National experience.
MALL DINI (20/1), RATHVINDEN 10/1 and ALPHA DES OBEAUX (25/1) are all in my betting profile at bigger prices, as per my original ante-post piece on this but with Paddy also non runner no bet on the Aintree spectacular – what’s not to love?
But above all there is one factor we have yet to recognise in this great race – LUCK!
A horse falls in front of your charge and they have nowhere to go. Your selection over jumps one of the first three fences having not settled or they merely don’t take to the track or the occasion. That’s what marks the Liverpool spectacular as the greatest event on the planet and so hard to dissect and decipher.
*All Prices correct at time of publishing