Can Tiger Roll Complete the Grand National Two-Timer?

Can Tiger Roll Complete the Grand National Two-Timer?  Tiger Roll will bid to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to win back-to-back Grand Nationals at Aintree on Saturday. All eyes will be on Gordon Elliott’s star nine-year-old as the runners gather at the start line for the epic 4-mile 514-yard chase. Can he pull it off? Here we assess Tiger Roll’s strengths and weaknesses and analyse whether he can mount a successful defence of his Grand National crown.

The Case for Tiger Roll

Last year Tiger Roll cemented his status as a Cheltenham Festival legend by winning the Cross Country Chase and he headed to the Grand National in fine form. He was the joint second favourite to win the race, but many dismissed his chances of success. He was written off as too small and many thought he could not handle the step up in trip. Yet the smallest horse in the field, dubbed “a little rat of a thing” by owner Michael O’Leary, displayed a lion-sized heart and a great deal of courage as he romped to victory in the biggest race of the year.

This time he has all the momentum once more after he successfully defended the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham last month. He can never be counted out, as he is a supremely versatile performer and he has secured victories over all manner of distances and in various different conditions. If you check out the horse racing spread betting at Sporting Index you will see that he is the shortest priced Grand National favourite in years and deservedly so.

He was handed 10-11 by the handicapper, leaving him very much in the sweet spot, as nine of the last eleven Nationals have gone to horses carrying between 10-07 and 11-06. He is slightly heavier than he was a year ago, but he has not been lumbered with too much weight. He has bags-of-experience now, and you know he has the stamina and jumping ability to finish a race that sees many fallers. He is blessed with terrific pace, and he could well cruise to victory if he is able to run a clean race, so he can absolutely double up at Aintree this year.

The Case Against Tiger Roll

No horse has successfully defended the Grand National since Red Rum, who won it in 1973 and 1974. He finished second in 1975 and 1976, before winning a third National in 1977 to cement his status as one of the greatest chasers of all time. We have not seen anything like that since, as every defending champion has flopped. Tiger Roll was not exactly an emphatic winner last year, as Pleasant Company came within inches of reeling him in, and far more dominant winners have failed to defend the crown the following year.

It’s an utterly brutal race, featuring horrendous fences such as The Chair and Becher’s Brook. Tiger Roll has completed it before, but there is no guarantee that he will do so again. The hazardous nature of the race means that anything can happen to put him off. A stray horse could clatter into him, or he could fall over another runner in a pile-up. It is an extremely prestigious race and the prize money on offer is huge, so it always attracts a competitive field and Tiger Roll could simply be vanquished by a faster horse with better stamina on the day.

The Challengers

A colossal field of 40 runners will contest the Grand National and danger lurks at every turn for Tiger Roll. Rathvinden, Anibale Fly, Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad are all vying to be the second favourite. Rathvinden is leading the charge for Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins after a strong win in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Anibale Fly is always there or thereabouts, having placed in last year’s National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018 and 2019. Vintage Clouds was third in the Scottish Grand National and looks to be steadily improving, while the lightly raced Lake View Lad is a strong stayer.

Pleasant Company is set to have another crack at glory after coming so close last year, giving Mullins another interesting shot at victory. An outright favourite has not won this race since Hedgehunter back in 2005, and punters have typically fared better when looking further down the field for each-way value. Joe Farrell and Jury Duty are beginning to attract a lot of attention, and Ramses De Teillee is also a big mover, while Ballyoptic also looks interesting.

Will Tiger Roll win the Grand National Again?

The shortest-priced winner in Grand National history was 11/4 shot Poethlyn in 1919, and Tiger Roll could match that exactly 100 years later. We have not seen such a heavy favourite in many years for this race, and he justifies the hype due to his pace, stamina and iron constitution. He could well coast to victory in this race, but at such short odds it is risky, as it is always a madcap, frenetic, congested contest and anything could happen to upset his rhythm. You could back him and hope he gets a clean run, but you might be better off choosing a couple of longer shots each-way.

Richard Johnson’s Grand National Story

Credit: Betway

In this revealing Betway interview, Richard Johnson waxes lyrical about what a dream it would be to win the Grand National and for his children to be able to tell their friends he’d done so. He retells the story of some of his most memorable Grand National experiences and of how a 2019 win on Rock The Kabah would ‘complete the set’. Will his Grand National hopes become a reality, or is this prestigious race destined to be ‘the one that got away’ for him?

Rough Quest

Rough Quest  Owned by Andrew Wates, trained by Terry Casey and ridden by Mick Fitzgerald, Rough Quest won the Grand National in 1996 and, in so doing, became the first winning favourite since Grittar in 1982. The 10-year-old had his stamina to prove, having previously never won beyond 3 miles 1 furlong, but had finished 19 lengths clear of the third horse when second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup two weeks previously and consequently looked well handicapped under just 10st 7lb.


Fizgerald was having just his second ride in the race, after coming a cropper at the first fence on Tinryland the previous year but, having made steady headway throughout the second circuit, he produced the favourite to tackle the leader, Encore Un Peu, in the final 200 yards. As he took the lead, though, Rough Quest hung left, towards the inside running rail, slightly hampering the eventual runner-up. David Bridgwater, the jockey aboard Encore Un Peu, momentarily snatched up – somewhat theatrically, in the eyes of most observers – so, although Rough Quest stayed on to win by 1¼ lengths, a stewards’ inquiry was almost inevitable.


Having emerged, unscathed, from what is often billed as “the ultimate test of horse and rider in National Hunt racing”, Rough Quest and Mick Fitzgerald then had to survive a 10-minute stewards’ inquiry into possible interference in the closing stages. The general consensus was that the result would stand, which it did. Afterwards, Fitzgerald couldn’t wait to tell anyone who was listening, “I’ve not enjoyed nine minutes so much for a long time. Sex would be an anticlimax after that.”

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