Tiger Roll is only rated ’50-50′ to run in the Grand National after the two-time winner was handed top-weight for the race.
The Irish superstar is looking to become the first horse in history to win three National’s in succession.
However, owners Gigginstown House Stud have admitted that they might instead go for the Betway Bowl – due to the increase in weight placed on Tiger Roll.
The Gordon Elliott-trained 10-year-old became the first horse since Red Rum to claim back-to-back renewals of the world’s most famous steeplechase last April – and is the clear favourite to emulate Ginger McCain’s legend by becoming a three-time winner in April.
However, Eddie O’Leary – brother of Gigginstown supremo Michael – has repeatedly stated Tiger Roll would only bid for another National win if connections were satisfied with his allotted rating, and the immediate reaction to his mark of 170 and the compression of the handicap was one of frustration.
Tiger Roll is due to make his first competitive appearance since his Aintree heroics of last spring in Sunday’s Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Will Tiger Roll go for a third Grand National victory in a row?
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) February 12, 2020
O’Leary told Sky Sports Racing: “Hopefully he comes through Navan on Sunday OK, then go on to Cheltenham and hopefully that all goes OK and if he’s OK at Cheltenham then we’ll make a choice.
“Tiger Roll is a very, very special horse – but is he a Gold Cup horse? A genius like Gordon Elliott has never even considered entering him in the Gold Cup.
“We obviously would love to see Tiger Roll to go for three in a row, but we’re very vocal about the fact that it (handicap) has to be compressed. It’s only been compressed 1lb, which is a bit silly, so therefore we have a decision to make. The welfare of the horse we feel is far more important to us than the race.
“The Grand National is the biggest race in the world, it’s bigger than any one horse.
“The handicapper has his job to do and he’s done it. We wanted more (compression in the handicap). The decision is now in our hands whether we run or not. Tiger is invaluable to us and we have to look after him.
“He was definitely going to be entered in the Betway Bowl and probably the Punchestown Gold Cup. Hopefully he comes through the Navan test, he’s coming back after a setback – he won’t win, obviously, but if just pulls up with a smile on his face that will do us and then go on to Cheltenham and hopefully show us more there.
“Then we’ll decide, but at the moment it’s 50-50. The Betway Bowl is definitely coming into calculations now.”
Trainer Elliott is also aware Tiger Roll does need to run in a chase this season to qualify for the National, and added: “The cut off to qualify for the Grand National is March 16, so if Tiger Roll doesn’t run at Cheltenham, it will be a disaster as he won’t be qualified.
“There is a maybe a race in Down Royal the same week that he could be entered for, but all being well it will be Cheltenham.”
Despite the concerns, Bookmakers are not looking beyond Tiger Roll.
Tiger Roll has a big contender to be worried about in Kimberlite Candy, who won the Grade Three Handicap Chase at Warwick last month for trainer Tom Lacey, pulling away from his rivals to win by ten lengths. Kimberlite Candy is the 14/1 second favourite with BoyleSports and is set to carry 10st 4lb.
As soon as the weights were released, some shrewd punters were quick to get on Any Second Now at 33/1 and as a result he has been trimmed into 25/1. The J.P McManus owned 8-year old will carry 10st 6lb should he run in what would be his first attempt around the Liverpool track.
Sarah Kinsella, spokesperson for BoyleSports said: “Tiger Roll’s new rating of 170 means he is 11lb greater than his second Aintree victory, compared to the 10st 13lb he had to carry when he won his first Grand National in 2018.
“It’s a big ask but he has the heart of a lion and racing fans would love to see him take his chance at landing the treble. He remains 5/1 for the race with nearest rival Kimberlite Candy at 14/1.”