Tiger Roll headlines National entries – but connections sound cautious note

Dual Randox Health Grand National winner Tiger Roll is one of 106 entries for the Aintree spectacular on April 10.

Gordon Elliott’s 11-year-old was denied the chance to make it three wins in a row last year, with the race cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tiger Roll, a four-time Cheltenham Festival winner, has not run since disappointing over the cross-country fences at Cheltenham in November – and his National participation is seemingly not guaranteed, with connections remaining unhappy with his rating.

Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, said: “Touch wood, he’ll go for the Boyne Hurdle at Navan (February 21) next and then it will be the cross-country chase at Cheltenham.

“I think the November run was just one of those days. We didn’t expect him to win or anything, but we didn’t think he’d run that bad. There was no reason for it, maybe he had a headache, I couldn’t tell you.

“With regards to the National, he’s still got a crazy weight. For some unknown reason he has this crazy rating, but he didn’t even appear in the end-of-season classifications last year, yet he’s got this rating of 168.

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“When I queried it, I was told that was because it was a cross-country rating. Tiger Roll was beaten 17 lengths by Easysland off level weights (in March).

“I’ve always said 168 is crazy and there’s no point in running in the National unless he’s given a chance. We’d be absolutely thrilled if he could run to a mark of 168, but it makes no sense.

“Unless he’s given a chance he’ll probably be retired at Cheltenham if he runs badly, and maybe Cheltenham is the right place to retire him given his record there.”

Trainer Gordon Elliott sprang to prominence when Silver Birch won in 2007
Trainer Gordon Elliott sprang to prominence when Silver Birch won in 2007 (Niall Carson/PA)

Elliott has also entered multiple Grade One winner Delta Work as he chases a fourth success in the race having also tasted glory with Silver Birch in 2007. Presenting Percy and The Storyteller are others among his team of 16.

Nicky Henderson has famously never won the National, but he has entered last year’s Gold Cup runner-up Santini this time around.

Willie Mullins has entered eight, including Burrows Saint, while Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve has been given the option by Evan Williams, despite still being a novice.

The Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now, French cross-country specialist Easysland and Kimberlite Candy feature in a strong numerical team for owner JP McManus.

Lake View Lad, Potters Corner, Bristol De Mai and Magic Of Light are others prominent in the early betting.

Golfer Lee Westwood could fulfil a lifelong dream should Yorkhill or Bellshill make the race.

Speaking to thejockeyclub.co.uk, he said: “It’s no secret that I have a real love for racing and that stems from watching big races like the Grand National from a young age. I’ve always wanted to have a runner in the big race, so to have two entered is perfect.

“It was such a thrill to see Yorkhill get back to winning ways at Newcastle in November and you certainly can’t write him off as a multiple Grade One winner, while Bellshill has plenty of class and would certainly have a chance if he runs.

“Sandy Thomson has done a great job with both horses so far and I’d love to win a race that’s famous all over the world.”

David Bridgwater’s Cheltenham Festival winner The Conditional and Jonjo O’Neill’s Ladbrokes Trophy winner Cloth Cap are other leading contenders.

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