Last year’s Aintree Grand National hero Tiger Roll warmed up for another ambitious spring campaign with a clear-cut victory in the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
What an incredible horse! The treble Cheltenham Festival winner (and reigning Grand National champ) Tiger Roll nonchalantly wins a prep race nobody thought he would!— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 17, 2019
Fast Results ?https://t.co/7iJOPsdIyZ pic.twitter.com/nVUlsr2d9q
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase – which he won at Cheltenham in 2018 – will be the next port of call for the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding, ahead of his attempt to become the first horse since Red Rum (in 1973-'74) to land back-to-back victories in the Aintree spectacular.
Tiger Roll was sent off at 25/1 for the Grade 2 hurdle over two miles and five furlongs – but the Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old did not travel like an outsider as he settled sweetly for Keith Donoghue.
After Coquin Mans had led the field to the third-last flight, Tiger Roll loomed large to jump the penultimate hurdle in front. Donoghue’s mount soon asserted and victory was never in doubt, as he crossed the line four lengths clear of Off You Go.
Elliott – whose charge is a three-time Chetenham Festival winner – said: “That’s brilliant, I’m delighted with the way he ran. He’s a great horse and never lets us down. The plan is the cross-country race at Cheltenham and obviously the English National, all being well.”
He went on: “It was a nice surprise. I thought the two horses, Bless The Wings and him, would finish second-last and last so it was a nice surprise. He’s paid for himself for the year again. That’s arguably one of his best performances over hurdles.
“I thought he would need the run badly, and we knew there was plenty of improvement in him, but he was obviously a bit fitter than I thought. Keith said he would come on from the run. He’s going to be some horse to go for the cross-country race now and he should taking a fair bit of beating with a clear round.”
Tiger Roll is around even money for the Cross Country Chase and 20/1 for the Grand National.
Elliott had four winners on the Navan card. Milan Native (9/2) kicked it off in the opening maiden hurdle, defeating favourite Raya Time cosily. The veteran Ucello Conti (4/7 favourite) won the hunter chase with ease and point-to-point graduate Thatsy (10/11 favourite) coasted home in the bumper.
The only setback for the Elliott yard came in the Grade 2 Ten Up Chase in which the stable's 5/4 favourite Champagne Classic failed by half a length to reel in Chris's Dream, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore.
It was a superb effort from the 14yo Salsify in third but Ucello Conti, who has two Cheltenham entries, wins another Hunters Chase to raise a Gordon Elliott treble at Navan pic.twitter.com/181xVWbLtt— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 17, 2019
Chriss Dream jumps the last a little early but clings on under a fine @rachaelblackmor ride to land Grade 2 honours at Navan— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 17, 2019
For full results and free replays go to https://t.co/GI57hUtDeF pic.twitter.com/Ki7BOZbOg5
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