THE Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Racehorse to Riding Horse championship has been hugely popular with spectators since its addition to the Dublin Horse Show programme and will be particularly so next Saturday as among those set to enter Ring 1 just after 1pm is Gigginstown House Stud’s Tiger Roll, winner of the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in 2018 and 2019.
The 12-year-old Authorized gelding, who was trained for most of his career by Gordon Elliott, was also the winner of four hurdle races (including the JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival) and seven other chases. He won four times over fences at Cheltenham Festivals, landing the J.T. McNamara National Hunt Chase in 2017 and the Cross-Country Chase in 2018, 2019 and 2021. He was retired following his gallant second-place finish to stable-companion Delta Work in this year’s renewal.
As owner, Gigginstown House Stud will be looking for another win at Dublin where they had successes with War Of Attrition and Don Cossack under Louise Lyons in 2018. Should Tiger Roll follow up for the Co Westmeath-based operation next Saturday, it will be in the hands of Ted O’Leary who was on the Irish team which won silver at the recent Junior European eventing championships.
Tiger Roll was partnered to his Grand National successes by Davy Russell who was ride judge for this class in 2018 when British trainer Colin Tizzard assessed conformation. Next week those roles will be filled by former top amateur Nina Carberry, winner of the 2011 Ladbrokes Irish Grand National and this year’s Dancing With The Stars competition, and Henrietta Knight, trainer of the triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate and a renowned judge, and breeder, of Connemara ponies.
Among those set to challenge Tiger Roll is another Grand National winner, One For Arthur, who landed the Aintree showpiece in 2017. He was then trained in Scotland by Lucinda Russell for the Two Golf Widows partnership of Deborah Thomson and Belinda McClung in whose names he is entered at Dublin and who intend to be there to see him in action. He is now being produced by Aisling Dwan whose father John bred the 13-year-old Milan gelding.
Among other entries are Tiger Roll’s former stable-companion General Principle, a 13-year-old bay gelding who won the BoyleSports Irish Grand National in 2018 for Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud. He is now owned by Cullentra Stables’ employee Seainin Mahon and the combination have won or been placed in every Racehorse to Riding Horse class they have contested. Also catalogued is the 12-year-old Robin Des Champs gelding Woodland Opera who is ridden for owner/breeders, Valerie and Diana Cooper, by Jamie Buckley. This winner of nine races was crowned the ITBA Racehorse to Riding Horse champion at the re-scheduled Balmoral Show last September.
Many former Willie Mullins-trained horses have found second careers in the show ring and two due to appear at the RDS next Saturday are Susannah Ricci’s eight-time Grade 1 winner Douvan, a 12-year-old Walk In The Park gelding who will be ridden by Clare Ricketts, and Black Hercules. The latter, a 2009 gelding by Heron Island whose seven wins included the 2016 JLT Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) at Cheltenham, is now in the ownership of rider, Lorna Murphy.
This combination won the novice retrained class at the Tattersalls Ireland July show where the open was won by Ruth Cody and Smokey Bay who qualified for Dublin at the Flavours Of Fingal Show. A winner most recently at Nugentstown, the 14-year-old Smokey Bay, who is one of 17 entries for Saturday’s class, has a completely different profile to the other horses mentioned here as he finished ninth of 10 in a bumper at Gowran Park in March 2014 on his only start.