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Tiger Roll '50-50' to attempt historic Grand National treble as handicap weights announced

Two-timer winner handed top weight of 11st 10lbs ahead of Aintree showpiece.

Tiger Roll: bidding for a third straight Grand National.
Tiger Roll: bidding for a third straight Grand National.
Image: Mike Egerton

TIGER ROLL IS only “50-50″ to attempt Aintree Grand National history after the back-to-back winner was installed as top weight for the 2020 race.

The 10-year-old is bidding to become the first horse ever to win three consecutive Grand Nationals, but to do so, he will have to defy a top weight of 11st 10lb in the 4 April showpiece.

This year’s weights had been the subject of much debate in advance of today’s announcement with Gigginstown House Stud, Tiger Roll’s owners, making it abundantly clear that their star would not run if they felt he was assigned a punitive mark by handicapper Martin Greenwood.

Rated 150 in 2018 and 159 in 2019, his top weight for this year’s renewal corresponds to a mark of 170 – the same as stablemate Delta Work, the Irish Gold Cup winner, who will also carry 11st 10lb if he runs.

“At the moment it’s 50-50,” Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary told Sky Sports Racing.

“Hopefully he will [run],” Tiger Roll’s trainer Gordon Elliott told Sky Sports Racing. “I have to discuss it with Michael O’Leary and his brother Eddie.

“He’s in good form and we’re hoping to get him back there. We’ll discuss it the lads when we get home and please God we get him back there.”

“You always want a couple of pound less,” he added. “Listen, Martin Greenwood and his team have a job to do, and it is what it is.” 

Bristol de Mai (11st 8lb) and 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River (11st 6lb) also feature at the top end of the 103 entries which remain.

“You could argue that it is the highest quality Grand National in modern history,” Greenwood said as he explained his decision.

“This decision was made essentially on two factors – historical compression which was brought in by [former handicapper] 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.

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“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.”

The first scratchings deadline for horses to withdraw from the race is on 25 February, with a second deadline on 17 March ahead of the five-day confirmations on 30 March.

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Niall Kelly

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