Tiger Roll could return to action at Cheltenham on Sunday before he takes aim at a cross-country title defence and possible tilt at a third Grand National.
The gelding took the famous Aintree steeplechase in 2017 and 2018 but his attempt to match the great Red Rum with a treble in the race were thwarted in 2020 when the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Aintree were able to host the fixture this spring, but the British Horseracing Authority handicapper Martin Greenwood and the horse’s connections could not agree over his rating of 166 – a mark that would have seen him shoulder 11st 9lb.
As a result Tiger Roll was omitted from the final line up after owners Gigginstown House Stud withdrew his entry, stating that the handicapper’s assessment of their horse was “unfair”.
The bay went on to display much of his old vim when taking the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but his performance in the Grade 1 Betway Bowl at Aintree saw him beaten 92 lengths in what was his most recent racecourse appearance.
Tiger Roll is now entered in a three and a half mile handicap chase at Cheltenham on Sunday, after which he will ultimately be aimed towards a defence of his cross country crown in March.
“He’s got the entry, I haven’t spoken to Gordon (Elliott, trainer) yet, but I think the plan is to run him,” said Eddie O’Leary, racing manager to his brother Michael’s Gigginstown House Stud.
“Hopefully he’ll go for the cross country at Cheltenham and then we’ll see how the handicapper is with the National, his aim is the cross country and after that we’ll see.
“It’ll depend on the English handicapper. The Irish handicapper has him at 155 but they won’t accept it in England, they won’t budge. Even the Irish handicapper has dropped him 7lb since he won at Cheltenham."