Arguing For and Against Tiger Roll’s Historic Grand National Bid

Now all the furore around weights has subsided (for now), we can look forward to the build-up to the 2020 Grand National and Tiger Roll’s pursuit of Red Rum’s record. For weeks owner Michael O’Leary has played chicken with the handicapper, at one point threatening to pull the horse from the race if Tiger Roll received too much weight. As it turned out, Tiger Roll received top-weight, but it seems O’Leary is willing to compromise. Was it a bluff? Who knows. But it always felt unlikely that – injury aside – Tiger Roll wouldn’t attempt to win a third consecutive Grand National.

Of course, if you have been paying attention to the odds, you will be well aware that the bookies have never doubted his participation, nor his candidacy as favourite. At the time of writing, his odds range from around 4/1 (Sky Bet) to 6/1 (888sport), but better value can be found when matching those odds with the latest Grand National betting offers from all the UK bookies. Moreover, there is a fair chance that those odds will go down closer to race day, as Tiger has become a kind of ‘people’s horse’ and you’d expect the money to flow for him.

Tiger Roll Disappointed in Navan

But are we jumping the gun a bit with Tiger Roll here? He is an amazing horse, of course. Lest we forget he is also a four-time Cheltenham Festival winner. But he has had one run since he won the Grand National last year, placing 5th in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.

Punters should not read too much into that; even though he won the Boyne Hurdle last year (at a cool 25/1), it’s not really Tiger Roll’s race at 2½ miles. Still, it’s not ideal preparation for the Grand National. Moreover, trainer Gordon Elliott has been keen to pour cold water on Tiger Roll’s general fitness and form in training.

Perhaps the point we are trying to make is that Tiger Roll isn’t quite the same horse that tore through the course at Aintree last year. We should get a better idea of his form when he tackles the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on 11th March. He’s 6/4 (Coral) for that race, but don’t be surprised to see the excellent Easyland (10/3) come in ahead of Tiger Roll. That would send a (minor) shockwave through the Grand National betting markets.

Native River Could Go for Glory

One beneficiary of such a shockwave might just be Native River. He’s now the 10/1 second-favourite (Bet365) for the Grand National, but there is a growing consensus that the stars are aligning for a victory at Aintree. Regardless, there is the very tantalising prospect of seeing Tiger Roll battle former Gold Cup winner Native River for the big one in April.

You should be aware, however, that Native River’s connections have cautioned ante-post backers of the horse to wait until he runs in the Gold Cup (13th March), as they won’t make a firm decision on the Grand National until after.

Other chances for the Grand National include Burrows Saint (12/1), Walk In The Mill (14/1), Kimberlite Candy and Magic of Light (both 20/1, Bet365). But this race (for now) is about one horse only – Tiger Roll.

We can only speculate on his form, and it may turn out that he shows his true class for the third time. But one should proceed with caution. We are talking about a great horse, and already a legend, but form is always fleeting in jumps racing. We would require a few more clues before being convinced Tiger Roll can equal Red Rum’s record on 6th April.