It's a second successive Randox Health Grand National win for Tiger Roll

Tiger Roll withdrawn from Randox Grand National at Aintree


Tiger Roll will not bid for a third victory in the Randox Grand National at Aintree next month, owners Gigginstown House Stud have announced.

The Gordon Elliott-trained 11-year-old became the first horse since Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back renewals of the world’s most famous steeplechase when striking gold in 2018 and 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed connections of the chance to emulate Red Rum by claiming a third National success 12 months ago – and owner Michael O’Leary and his brother Eddie have warned on several occasions since that he would not line up in this year’s renewal if they felt he was unfairly treated by the handicapper.

Tiger Roll was given a mark of 166 when the weights were officially unveiled last month and ahead of the latest scratchings stage on Tuesday, Gigginstown confirmed he will not be running at Aintree due to what they feel is a “patently unfair” rating.

Tiger Roll fends off Pleasant Company in 2018

A spokesperson for the owners said in a statement: “When Tiger Roll won his second Grand National in April 2019 he ran off a rating of 159. He won by just two and a half lengths at the age of nine, having previously won the Boyne Hurdle in Navan and then won the 2019 Cheltenham cross-country race by 22 lengths.

“Two years later, the horse is now 11 years old. He was beaten by 17 lengths in last year’s Cheltenham cross-country and by 75 lengths in last month’s Boyne Hurdle, so his form over an extended two-year period suggests that he is clearly not as good as he was when he won the National in April 2019.

“Despite this pretty obvious decline, the handicapper has given him a mark of 166, which is 7lb higher than when he won his second Grand National in April 2019. We believe this is patently unfair, unjustified and does not reflect the horse’s age or his form over the past two seasons.

“We made clear that if Tiger Roll was rated ‘in the 150s’ (i.e where he was two years ago), which is what his form and age now warrants, he would be allowed to run in this year’s National and go for a historic three in a row.

“However, the handicapper has decided to rate him on his reputation rather than his form – which we fully accept is his prerogative – but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so we will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden, especially as he gets older and his form declines.

Tiger Roll - the horse of a lifetime

“We therefore regret to announce that Tiger Roll will be removed from the Grand National entries at Tuesday’s forfeit stage.

“We hope he will run next as planned in the cross-country race at Cheltenham, where we hope he will enjoy himself and run well. After that, we will consider his future well-being, which may involve retirement if his handicap mark is not adjusted to more fairly reflect his age and form over the past two seasons.

“We all look forward to this year’s Aintree Grand National, which we hope can now proceed without any further speculation over Tiger Roll’s participation.

“We fully respect the handicapper’s right to determine the Grand National weights as he so chooses, but we respectfully believe that he is mistaken in allocating an unfair and unwarranted weight to Tiger Roll.

“In these circumstances, as we previously advised, Tiger Roll will not run.”

Timeform verdict on decision

Timeform’s chase handicapper Phil Turner said when the Grand National weights were announced, Tiger Roll wasn’t handicapped out of things if judged on the form of his 2019 Aintree win – but it was a big ‘if’ as to whether he retained that sort of ability.

He added on Tuesday: "It would appear his connections feel he’s deteriorated since then and, as a result, they’re clearly aggrieved to see him allotted a similar weight to proven Grade 1 performers such as Bristol de Mai and Santini. For example, he makes little appeal off a 1 lb higher mark than his own stable-companion The Storyteller on recent evidence.

“In fairness to the BHA handicapper, though, that recent evidence was very limited indeed – Tiger Roll had run just four times since the 2019 National when this year’s weights were announced (he’s since run again over hurdles) and only two of those were actually over fences.

“Given that backdrop, it would be unfair on the other horses’ connections for him to completely ignore Tiger Roll’s stellar Aintree record and, as a result, his BHA mark of 166 was understandable under the circumstances, for all it’s easy to see why some may view it as harsh.”



Disappointment for Aintree team

Aintree clerk of the course Sulekha Varma is disappointed Tiger Roll will miss out and believes another possible hat-trick seeker will not been seen for some time.

She said: “It is a shame. It would have been fantastic to see the horse go and attempt to win the race three times. I think we may never get the chance again in our lifetimes, but he’s been a fabulous horse.

“I’m sorry we won’t see him at Aintree this year, but it’s for the owners and trainers to do what they feel is right for the horse.”

Varma feels the Grand National will still offer plenty of excitement, despite Tiger Roll’s absence.

“There are so many other stories. It has great horses and it’s fantastic we’re going to actually run the race this year, having lost it last year. That’s hugely exciting,” she added.

Elliott is currently not be permitted to have runners in Britain until the conclusion of an Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board investigation into an image on social media that showed him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops.

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