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Grand National hat-trick still on for Tiger Roll despite recent surgery

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Tiger Roll in Meath after winning the Grand National in 2019. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tiger Roll in Meath after winning the Grand National in 2019. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tiger Roll in Meath after winning the Grand National in 2019. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tiger Roll is still recovering from injury but looked in fine fettle at Gordon Elliott's Cullentra Stables with the Meath trainer still planning for an Aintree Grand National hat-trick bid.

The loveable nine-year-old had a small chip removed from a joint recently meaning that he is confined to box-rest for three weeks and he won't do exercise of any kind, having been ready to start his season prior to the setback.

It's still all systems go for the Randox Health Aintree Grand National in April, however, with Elliott thankful that the injury didn't happen closer to the Liverpool showpiece and completely scupper the historic three-in-a-row bid.

The Grade Three Boyne Hurdle at Navan - which he won in a canter last season – is the aim for his seasonal reappearance in February before aiming for a Cross Country hat-trick at Cheltenham but Elliott outlined that they will go straight to the Festival if necessary.

"His procedure went well and he'll be back walking on Friday week. He'll have three weeks walking and we'll get him back cantering steady. He was in full fitness and almost ready to run when it happened," Elliott said earlier today.

"It's not ideal but if it happened in January or February, it'd be a lot worse. The Boyne Hurdle is where we'd love to go but there's a fair chance he'll go straight to Cheltenham for the Cross Country race."

Elliott refused to be drawn on the circumstances around Tiger Roll's injury while he gave an upbeat bulletin on the likelihood of him going to Aintree, even if owner Michael O'Leary has raised doubts about his participation and the weight which he may have to carry.

"It's been publicised what the injury is and we're here today to be positive, not to be negative. It's going forward we want to be. If I can have 15 runners in the race, I hope Tiger Roll is one of them," the 41-year-old said.

"The Randox Grand National is the plan. Obviously Michael O'Leary owns the horse and will make the final decision but in my mind this is the race we've been training him for since last year.

"To be honest, he carried 11st 5lb last year and we know he's going to have top-weight this time around, we're not stupid. It's just how the weights are compressed. The handicapper has his job to do.

"I'm sure he's going to fair with everyone and that everyone will be happy. He's going to have 11st 10lb or whatever top weight is. Would he have won with 5lb more last year? He probably would. If he's 5lb higher this year we'll be happy.

"I never second guess what Michael O'Leary says. The dream is to get this horse back to run in the Randox Grand National, to run will be awesome. If he could head out on the last circuit with a live chance it'd be some atmosphere.

"It's a Grand National and I know what can happen, that's what's brilliant about the race. You go to Cheltenham and there's a lot of pressure but it's a different type of pressure at Aintree. It's great to be there. If we get him there the build-up and atmosphere will be second to none."

Having put his name on the training map when Silver Birch won the Aintree National in 2007, Elliott never dreamed that he would be lucky enough to have a horse like Tiger Roll achieve back-to-back victories and possibly eye a third.

"It's frightening really what he did last year. With the blinkers on him, he was a different horse. You could say he was probably the best he ever was last year. He's the horse of a lifetime. Everyone knows him and loves him.

"He's got a great name and is a character of a horse. He's almost two weeks standing in his stable and he loves everyone coming up to pet him and see him. He's a legend and he knows it.

"Everyone that comes into the yard doesn't ask to see anyone else, they all want to see him. He's not a big horse but he's not as small as everyone says. He's compact and has all the right bits in the right places."

Among the 14 Elliott horse likely to partner Tiger Roll in the National are the likes of Galway Plate winner Borice, American Grand National winner Jury Duty and Cheltenham Festival winners The Storyteller and Shattered Love.

Online Editors