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GRAND NATIONAL: Tiger Roll given 2lb concession by Aintree handicapper
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GRAND NATIONAL: Tiger Roll given 2lb concession by Aintree handicapper
on 12 February 2020
Dual Grand National winner asked to race off mark of 170 in hat-trick bid, and connections now say it's 50-50 that the horse will run in the big race

TIGER Roll and stablemate Delta Work, with respective ratings of 170, have been allotted top weight of 11st 10lb for the 2020 Randox Health Grand National.

The 10-year-old is aiming to emulate the legendary Red Rum as a three-time winner of the Grand National and, if victorious, would become the first horse to do so in consecutive years. Tiger Roll had an official rating of 150 in the 2018 running and defied a rating of 159 in last year's edition. He is due to make his seasonal debut in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan next Sunday.

Gordon Elliott's stable star is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, whose racing manager Eddie O'Leary has repeatedly warned that the horse will not run in the National unless his rating was sufficiently 'compressed', in line with previous top weights.

O'Leary said today: “The handicapper has his job to do and he’s done it. We wanted more (compression in the handicap). The decision is now in our hands whether we run or not. Tiger is invaluable to us and we have to look after him.

“He was definitely going to be entered in the Betway Bowl and probably the Punchestown Gold Cup. Hopefully he comes through the Navan test, he’s coming back after a setback – he won’t win, obviously, but if just pulls up with a smile on his face that will do us and then go on to Cheltenham and hopefully show us more there.

“Then we’ll decide, but at the moment it’s 50-50. The Betway Bowl is definitely coming into calculations now.”

Handicapper's view

British Horseracing Authority chase handicapper Martin Greenwood, who framed the weights for the second time this year and has total discretion for the National, said: "I have made Tiger Roll and Delta Work joint top-weights.

"This decision was made essentially on two factors - historical compression which was brought in by Phil Smith and has been used for the last 10 years or so. On the other hand, I have to give Tiger Roll this mark based on his efforts over the national fences at Aintree where he is of course unbeaten.

"Tiger Roll was rated 172 at the end of last year and obviously there is no recent evidence to go on because of his fitness issues, so his handicap mark has been unquantifiable since. He is therefore coming down 2lb and carries the same weight as Suny Bay did when he was second in the 1998 Grand National. No other horse has carried that rating since. Many Clouds won off 11st 9lb, but he did not have as high a rating.

"It must be remembered that Tiger Roll ran in the race off a rating of 159 but was actually rated 167 at the time due to his win in the Cross Country at Cheltenham.

"Tiger Roll has also not yet qualified for this year's Grand National. Whilst he may run in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan (next Sunday), he still has to run in a chase to qualify. There are about 15 horses overall who currently do not qualify because they have either not run over fences this season or not yet finished in the first four in a race over 23 and a half furlongs in their career. A high-profile example would be Cadmium, a Topham Chase winner.

"Delta Work is a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup contender and, in order to keep as many of the horses in the handicap, he is also off 170. Other horses towards the top include Bristol de Mai and Native River. Bristol de Mai was rated 173 when entered last year and that figure has been downgraded since to 168. I have dropped Native River 2lb to 166 as Bristol De Mai has finished in front of him the last couple of times they have met, and I thought he was workmanlike when winning at Newbury on Saturday."

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