Eddie O’Leary – representative of Gigginstown Stud who own BetVictor’s 5/1 Grand National favourite Tiger Roll – said on Tuesday that the 10-year-old is 50/50 to run in the world’s greatest horserace after the unveiling of the weights in Liverpool even though racing immortality beckons.
No horse has won the race in three successive years although Red Rum did, of course, win the race three times (1973, 74 and 77) and finished runner up in 75 and 76. Tiger Roll will carry 11st 10lbs at Aintree in April and looks sure to line up if he comes out of Sunday’s Boyne Hurdle at Navan and next month’s Cross-Country race at the Festival fit and well.
Tiger Roll’s stablemate Champagne Classic – 33/1 at BetVictor – would be my pick of the weights with just 10st 6lbs although the 9-y-old is not a confirmed runner and no decision will be made on his participation until after Cheltenham for which he is the 5/1 market leader for the 3m 6f NH Chase.
Storm Ciara continues to wreak havoc on turf racing but Leicester, who have had so many abandonments this winter, are optimistic, at the time of writing, that their all-chase card will go ahead today on ground described as soft at noon on Wednesday.
Robin Dickin has not had the best of seasons with just two winners from 66 runners, but Vocaliser (2.00) may have bumped into one when second at Sedgefield last time and his four career wins over jumps have all come right-handed including over C&D from a 4lbs higher mark. Tabitha Worsley, who was in the plate in the north-east last time, keeps the ride.
Oliver Sherwood’s Got Away won the mares’ handicap chase on this card 12 months ago and can race from the rating this afternoon. She is obviously back down to a good mark but carrying 12st 6lbs in soft ground will not be easy and Dame Du Soir and Everlanes (2.30) are two progressive chasers who may still be ahead of the handicapper.
Dame Du Soir beat Colorado Doc at Hereford on her penultimate start and the latter did us a big favour when scoring at Plumpton on Monday. She should appreciate today’s step up in trip, but I was quite taken with the manner of Everlanes’ win at Taunton last time and an 8lb rise may not prevent her from following up. The form of her third to Annie Mac on her chase debut has been well and truly franked in the interim period and her jumping was exemplary at Taunton last time.
First Flow (3.30) was coming back all the way to the line against Dolos at Ascot last time and I hope to see David Bass give the selection an aggressive ride from the front in the four-runner novice handicap chase. The selection was a Grade 2 winner over hurdles and has not yet quite fulfilled the promise he showed over timber, but I would be disappointed if he didn’t go very close in this grade with Muratello up 5lbs for finishing runner up at Haydock last time.
The concluding Novice Hunter Chase is a cracker with O Ceallaigh and Kashmir Peak (4.30) both running terrific races in defeat last time. The former was no match from the last for The Dellercheckout and Monbeg Gold at Ludlow but had jumped superbly, while the selection was brushed aside from the last by Minella Rocco when jockey Jack Andrews may have made his bid for glory too soon. A clash between two 11-year-old novice hunter chasers may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it should be a terrific contest.
The Group 2 Balanchine for fillies’ and mares’ is the highlight in Meydan and I hope to see the lightly-raced Magic Lily (4.15) give weight and a beating to her seven rivals. Charlie Appleby’s mare is penalised 3lbs for winning over a mile here last month when jockey James Doyle suggested today’s additional furlong would suit. She will have to settle better than was the case last time, but she was beaten less than a length – by Laurens – in the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile back in 2017 and can make up for lost time.
There is an all-weather Fast Track qualifier at Chelmsford over a mile for fillies and mares this evening and course specialist Solar Heights (7.00) can land a fourth C&D success for James Tate. The filly would be giving weight away all-round if this were a handicap and connections can book their ticket to Lingfield on Good Friday.