Author: Derek Thompson
TIGER ROLL roared into the history books when winning the world’s greatest steeplechase, The Grand National at Aintree, for the second year running. Run over four and a quarter miles and 30 of the toughest fences in the world, the 9yo Tiger Roll, who is barely bigger than a pony, became the first horse since the great Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to win the race two years running. And he did it in style, winning impressively after travelling so well throughout the race under jockey Davy Russell and in doing so, became the shortest priced favourite to win the race in 100 years! He has now won over £1.36 million in prize money and apart from two Grand Nationals, has also won four times at the Cheltenham Festival.
For winning trainer Gordon Elliott it was his third success in the race and for a man who has worked his way up from the bottom, it was yet another great advert for his brilliance at training racehorses. The 70,000 racegoers cheered him all the way to the winner’s enclosure and for winning owner Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, it was ‘unbelievable’! It was a bad day for the bookies who estimated they lost £250 million on the race but it was a good day for the Ryanair passengers on the flight back to Dublin because when O’Leary was on the plane, he ordered free drinks for everyone on board! Whether Tiger Roll comes back next year is still to be decided as he stands only 15.2 hands high and will have to carry more than the 11 stone 5lb he carried to victory this year, but the way he won suggests he could do it for a third time!
The race was a great result for Irish trainers who saddled the first four home and just for good measure, winning trainer Gordon Elliott also ended the three day meeting as the leading trainer with four victories. This week there’s another National, the Scottish National at Ayr, but with great respect to National Hunt fans, all eyes will be on the Flat at Newbury and the reappearance of last year’s top 2yo, Too Darn Hot in the Greenham Stakes. This is a traditional 2000 Guineas trial and Too Darn Hot, who earned a rating equal to that of the great Frankel thanks to his exploits last year, is hot favourite for this year’s 2000 Guineas. Trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, he has moved well on the Newmarket gallops in preparation for this race and he is owned by Lord Webber whose Watership Down Stud sponsors the race.
Needless to say it will be a major shock if he gets turned over. Charlie Appleby, who ended up the top trainer at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, kept up the good work back in Europe when his Ghaiyyath, under William Buick, easily won the Prix d’Harcourt at Longchamp in Paris. It was an outstanding performance by this 4yo son of Dubawi and he looks set to now contest the top 10f races this season. There’s more top racing to look forward to in the UK next week when racing returns to Newmarket with the Craven Meeting. And with the first Classics of the season, the 2000 and 1000 Guineas now just three weeks away, we’ll be looking to find out the likely contenders!