Tiger Roll returns after his run at Navan. Gary Carson/PA
Eye of the tiger

Grand National hero Tiger Roll sixth as he makes Flat comeback at Navan

Cheltenham cross-country the likely next target for O’Leary’s star.

DUAL GRAND NATIONAL hero Tiger Roll finished sixth on his return to action on the Flat at Navan on Thursday.

Having his first run without obstacles in his way since a maiden at Dundalk in March 2016, the Gordon Elliott-trained 10-year-old ran on pleasingly in the closing stages.

Perhaps it was to be expected he would be slowly out of the stalls and it was not long before his 16-year-old rider Sam Ewing was encouraging him to go a bit quicker.

After a furlong or two Ewing seemed content with how the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding was travelling, despite being detached from the main group.

With half a mile to run Tiger Roll got in touch with the opposition and while it was too much to ask for him to trouble those at the head of affairs given winner, Ilmig, is seven years his junior, he stuck to his task.

The popular chaser would no doubt have been happier to go round on another circuit, as the Flower Hill Maiden was run over a mile and three-quarters, but Elliott will have taken plenty of encouragement from the display.

Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “He missed the break, which was understandable as he hasn’t been in stalls for a long time.

“He doesn’t do a tap on his own. Sam was very good on him, he passed a few and he blew his head off afterwards so it was great – he needed it (run).

“All going well it will either be one of the cross-country chases at Cheltenham in November or December, or the Boyne Hurdle.

“He probably has to go over to Cheltenham, but his rating is a mockery (168) given he got beat off a horse rated 152 (Easysland, at Cheltenham in March).”

Ilmig (7-2) is trained by Jessica Harrington and was the second leg of a treble for Shane Foley.

“We’re delighted with him, he’s a lovely horse,” said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother.

“We gelded him in the spring, threw him out in the summer, and he’s come back in a different horse.”

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