Chasing superstar and last years Grand National victor Tiger Roll has been confirmed that his season goal is to go and land back to back wins in the biggest steeplechase in the world at Aintree in April and give his trainer Gordon Elliott a third success in the race.
Elliott first landed the race back in 2007 with Silver Birch ridden by Robbie Power and at this point the trainer had not even had a winner in Ireland. Now more than 10 years on he is one of the leading trainers in the sport and competing hard with Willie Mullins to become Irish Champion trainer.
With all his success through the years Gordon Elliott must maintain a strong winning strike rate and always looking to field his best horses in the strongest races to pick up the biggest prize pots more than likely for owners Gigginstown.
(Credit At The Races) The Irishman said: “The Grand National is the one race that everybody knows and of course it’s a race that everyone wants to win.
“We have been lucky enough to win it twice, and you kind of pinch yourself hoping you can win it three times.
“We probably didn’t really appreciate it the first time, but we did when Tiger Roll won and probably enjoyed that bit more.”
Elliott's second success in the Grand National came last year with Tiger Roll in a race that no fan of the sport will ever forget with after over four miles of running it all came down to a photo finish against Willie Mullins Pleasant Company.
Tiger Roll has had an elusive career landing three races at the Cheltenham Festival and obviously last years big one at Aintree but he will be looking to very much the same on his road to Liverpool by trying to win the Cross Country Chase at jumps racing HQ in march.
“Tiger Roll will go to Cheltenham in December and Cheltenham in March. The cross-country fences seem to work for some horses. It’s something different and keeps them alive. It keeps their mind going and is a good prep for the National fences,” said Elliott.
“You just hope they take to the National fences, but until they go out and jump the first three or four, you don’t know.
“Tiger Roll is a little bit special. He’s not the most impressive horse to look at and probably one of the smallest we have, but he wears his heart on his sleeve every day of the week and he’s a great bit of stuff.
“To be perfectly honest, it would be a massive ask for him to go back and win it again. He’s going to have close to top-weight next year, but he’ll run in it and have a good sporting each-way chance.”
“The cross-country race in Cheltenham will be his Gold Cup. He gave almost two stone to a lot of horses on his first run back and I thought he ran a very good race.
“I probably minded him a bit more this year because I thought I had him fitter than I had, but Keith (Donoghue) said he took a couple of blows. With a horse like him that has won at three Cheltenham Festivals and an English National, you get a little bit soft with them.”
However, the eight year old is not just the trainers only hope of success in the steeplechase in April as the Gigginstown team could enter many other horses including Irish Grand National winner General Principle, last years Grand National third Bless The Wings and the Isaac Souede and Simon Munir trained French horse Borice.
Borice has been a suprise package for the Gordon Elliot yard and has shown some really good form and even better work at home and they are excited by what he could be.
Elliott said: “At the first entry stage for the National we could have between 10 and 15 entries, and end up having four or five runners.
“Tiger Roll obviously will go back there, Outlander I’d imagine could run in it and Bless The Wings was third in it last year.
“Mala Beach, Monbeg Notorious and Woods Well are others and Folsom Blue could go if he gets in. If it was soft ground and he got in, Folsom Blue would have a great chance. The Welsh National is the plan for him.
“General Principle won the Irish National this year. He doesn’t show much at home, but he could be another one for Aintree.
“Borice is a horse we got from France this year and I think he could be a dark horse for the National. He would probably need to go up a few pounds to get into the race and, all being well, he’ll go for the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“He ran in a lot of good staying chases in France. He was hitting the crossbar in a few of them, but I think he could be a National type of horse.
“The best horse doesn’t always win it and you need a lot of luck on your side and things to go right.”
(Credit ITV Racing)