Aintree Grand National her Tiger Roll is still on track to go for the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile event that he has won for the last two years despite a recent training setback.
It was announced at the start of the month that the nine year old had undergone a procedure to remove a chip in a joint and is currently resting up in his box and will not be back on a training for a few weeks until fully healed.
However, even with this three time Grand National winning trainer Gordon Elliott is still confident that his horse can become a triple winner of the contest and match what Red Rum done did in the 20h Century.
If all goes well with the Gigginstown owned horses recovery, he will return to action in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February and then head for the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham festival, where he could land his fifth victory at the prestigious meeting.
(Credit At The Races) Gordon Elliott said: “The procedure he had went well. He’s on box rest until Thursday week, when the bandage will come off and he’ll start back walking.
“He’ll be walking for three weeks then, all being well, he’ll be back cantering after that. He was in full fitness and almost ready to run when it happened. It’s not ideal, but if it had happened in January or February it would have been a lot worse.
“The Boyne Hurdle is where we’d love to go, but if he doesn’t get there then he could just go straight to Cheltenham for the Cross Country.”
Owner Michael O'Leary did hint that with the handicapper putting a harsh weight on Tiger Roll for next year's Grand National that they may not run the gelding but his trainer Elliott still believes the Grand National is the big plan.
“The Randox Grand National is the plan. Obviously Michael O’Leary owns him and will make the final decision, but in my mind this is the race I’ve been training him for since last year,” said Elliott.
“To be honest, he carried 11st 5lb last year, we know he’s going to have top weight, we’re not stupid. It’s just how much the weights are compressed. The handicapper has a job to do, but I’m sure he’s going to be fair with everyone.
“We’re almost certain he’s going to have to carry 11st 10lb, but would he have won with another 5lb last year? I think he probably would.
“It’s the Grand National, I know what can happen in a Grand National. When you go to Cheltenham there’s a lot of pressure, but going to Aintree, it’s just great to be there. There’s pressure but of a different kind.
“Anything can happen in the National, that’s what makes it the race it is, but the build up to the race will be second to none.”
Tiger Roll brought the Aintree house down when storming home in April and Elliott believes the reception will be even greater if he is in with a chance of a hat-trick.
He added: “My dream is to get this horse back fit for the Grand National – if he makes it, that will be awesome.
“If he’s going out on the second circuit still with a live chance, it will be some atmosphere.”