Tiger Roll Profile
|Born||Mar 14, 2010|
Tiger Roll has won the Grand National on two occasions and is gunning for a third - but he has flat race pedigree and has battled adversity along the way...
A horse of a lifetime, Tiger Roll was initially bred for flat racing but came with a serious spring in his step.
This small but mighty horse overcame injury to win the Grand National twice in a row in 2018 and 2019.
Tiger Roll, the punters' friend, will attempt to win a record-breaking third consecutive Grand National at Aintree in 2021, with the 2020 edition having been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Tiger Roll - the early years
Interestingly, fence jumping specialist Tiger Roll has an impressive flat racing pedigree, with his sire being Authorized, the winner of the 2007 Epsom Derby.
Tiger Roll was bred in Ireland by Gerry O'Brien but bought as a foal by leading flat racing operation Godolphin for 70,000 guineas (£73,500) at the Tattersalls sales in Newmarket.
The horse never raced for Godolphin but former Grand National-winning jockey Nigel Hawke saw potential in Tiger Roll, paying £10,000 to take him back to his Devon stables.
Hawke sent Tiger Roll to his first juvenile hurdle race at Market Rasen in November 2013, which was over two miles and half a furlong. Tiger Roll won by three and three-quarter lengths, earning a mere £3,898.80 in prize money. However, bigger purses were to come.
Tiger Roll, Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud
Trainer Hawke saw an opportunity for a quick profit on Tiger Roll and sold the horse two months after his first win for £80,000 to Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary. To say O'Leary got the horse cheaply is an understatement.
Tiger Roll was put into training with the skilful Irishman Gordon Elliott at his Cullentra House operation in County Meath, Ireland, and the horse had to prove his class among a stable oozing with talent.
Tiger Roll's second race was a step up in class to a Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at Leopardstown on February 9, 2014. He finished a decent second and may have gotten closer had his jockey not lost his whip in the run-in.
That set Tiger Roll for a crack at the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival in March 2014. Setting off as a 10/1 shot, Tiger Roll travelled smoothly up the inside under Irish jockey Davy Russell to take the race by three and a quarter lengths.
Tiger Roll's injury and loss of form
For a horse on an upward curve, it was upsetting for Tiger Roll's owners when the horse pulled up lame in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal in October 2014.
Describing the injury sustained at the second-last hurdle, Eddie O'Leary, Michael's brother and Gigginstown racing manager, said that Tiger Roll had suffered a broken pelvis. "I don't know what fell off but something fell off him that day because it took him at least two years to come back from that," O'Leary subsequently told betfair.com.
After his injury, Tiger Roll would not win again for a year and seven months, and the horse that would go on to win two Grand Nationals was even considered for sale, such was his lack of form.
However, with careful rehabilitation and the care of jockey Keith Donoghue, Tiger Roll began to look like a horse that could win races again.
Unusually for a horse with such injury problems, the larger obstacles of chase racing helped Tiger Roll get into his stride and he won a couple of smaller contests in Ireland in May 2016.
Tiger Roll's renaissance and first Grand National
Tiger Roll's fighting spirit was shown in March 2017 when winning the marathon four mile National Hunt Challenge Cup, back on the big stage at the Cheltenham Festival.
The following year, trainer Elliott entered Tiger Roll in the Glenfarclas Chase to cement his comeback. This was a cross country race with varied obstacles including banks, ditches and hedges. Tiger Roll won the three mile six furlong contest.
After winning the National Hunt Challenge Cup and the Glenfarclas Chase, Tiger Roll showed he was a horse that could run and jump over long distances so the Grand National in April 2018 was an obvious progression.
However, for a horse still recovering from injury, this 38-runner race at Aintree over the extreme trip of four miles, two and a half furlongs was a massive test.
Not only did Tiger Roll have to keep calm in front of a sell-out crowd of 70,000 in the Grand National but he had to jump the larger fences at Aintree, with the obstacle known as "The Chair" standing at an imposing 5ft 3in in height.
Jockey Russell, who at 38 was the oldest rider in the race, kept Tiger Roll in a good position as other horses fell or brought each other down. Tiger Roll out-jumped Irish rival Pleasant Company at the penultimate fence to open up a five-length margin going into the winning straight. However, Pleasant Company finished strongly and it was too close to call at the line, meaning a photo was required. Tiger Roll was then announced the winner by a head, earning a cool £500,000 prize.
Tiger Roll's second Grand National
When Tiger Roll is compared to the famous Red Rum, you know a serious horse is being talked about and, in 2019, Tiger Roll went to match "Rummy's" 1970's record of two Grand Nationals in a row.
While his early career had been blighted by injury, Tiger Roll's build-up to a second Grand National win on the spin was smooth, winning the Boyne Hurdle at Navan and then the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham for a second time.
The letter f had begun to be firmly applied next to Tiger Roll's name and he arrived at Aintree on April 6, 2019 as the 4/1 favourite.
On a sunny day on Merseyside amidst a 40-runner field, Tiger Roll set out to take on Red Rum for a place in history. However, this was no walk in the park for Tiger Roll and the horse would show why Eddie O'Leary describes him as having the "heart of a lion".
Tiger Roll made a few errors en route, going through the spruce fences and nodding on landing a couple of times. Yet, at the business end of the race, Tiger Roll out-jumped the valiant Magic Of Light at the last fence and it was rider Russell cruising while the others floundered.
A modern hero had been created as Tiger Roll won the 2019 Grand National by two and three quarter lengths, equalling Red Rum's record in front of a global television audience of 600 million.
"He's a spectacular horse, he's such an athlete, he just loves to run and jump," said Russell at the Grand National winner's press conference.
"I know it sounds silly but he knows his name. When the commentator said his name when we were parading, he stood up and then stood back down again when they started talking about the next horse. He's so intelligent it's unbelievable."
Tiger Roll and a third Grand National shot
After a 10-month rest, Tiger Roll was named among the 105 entries for the 2020 Grand National, announced on January 29, 2020.
However, the 2020 Grand National was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January 2021, Eddie O'Leary thrilled the racing world by announcing that Tiger Roll would be entered into the 2021 Grand National for a shot at a record-breaking three wins in succession.
"We all had a sit down on Thursday night to discuss everything and we've decided Tiger Roll will definitely run in the Grand National provided everything goes okay on his return to action at Navan on Sunday and in the cross-country at Cheltenham next month," reported the Racing Post on January 13.
Trainer Gordon Elliott was equally pleased, telling the Racing Post: "It's great news and hopefully we can get him to Aintree in one piece now. This is about Tiger Roll and nothing else. He's the horse of a lifetime and he's now the people's horse, so it was important that we made an early decision."
Few would discount the epic Tiger Roll from winning a third Grand National. After fighting back from injury and loss of form to take Aintree's premier race twice, Tiger Roll has done it with class and adaptability.
"He's a dude of a horse to have around the place... He knows he's good anyway that's one thing for sure, just a swagger about him, he has a swagger," Jack Madden, Barn Manager at Cullentra House told betfair.com. This swagger could make him a record breaker.