CHALLENGING SPRING BECKONS FOR TIGER ROLL, HIS TRAINER, AND OWNER

At just over 15 hands, Tiger Roll does not look like the kind of muscular bruiser who can tackle a four-mile chase over rugged obstacles.  But looks can be deceiving, and this champion with Rolls-Royce-like horsepower has demonstrated that not only can he handle it, but that he might just be the best long-distance chaser of the modern era.

As everyone who follows British horse racing is aware, Tiger Roll has some business to take care of in the coming weeks.  First up, coronavirus permitting, there is the Cheltenham Festival, where he, somewhat remarkably, could become a five-time winner if he lands the Cross Country Chase, putting him in company with the legendary Golden Miller, and just one win behind the all-time record holder Quevega, who won six consecutive Mares’ Hurdles from 2009-2014.

Tiger Roll will start as the clear favorite for the stamina-testing Cross-Country Chase and, if last year’s contest is anything to go by, the current price of 11/10 on betting exchanges looks generous.  A horse rarely goes off as odds-on in these 4-mile tests that tend to become wars of attrition, so seeing Tiger Roll at 10/11 and below with some bookmakers shows how highly he is regarded.

Tiger Roll Tops Ante-Post Betting

But if the Cheltenham Festival is seen as the appetizer of the racing spring, the Grand National is the main course for jumps racing fans.  One can learn about the latest betting odds and markets for the Grand National at freebets.com, but this race is all about Tiger Roll.  He currently leads the betting markets at a best price of 11/2 with Unibet, but those odds will certainly tumble if he runs well at Cheltenham next week.

Competition could come from anywhere in the field of 40; after all, 100/1 winners are not unheard of in the National.  But Burrows Saint (12/1), Definitly Red (12/1), and Any Second Now (14/1) seem to be the candidates taking the most money in the ante-post markets (all odds from Bet365).

A Nation Gets Behind One Horse

If a person is not an avid follower of British jumps racing, it’s difficult to comprehend the high regard held for Red Rum’s three Grand National victories (1973, 1974, 1977).  It was a record that racing fans felt would never be broken.  Few horses had even come close to winning two Grand Nationals until Tiger Roll scored his victories in 2018 and 2019.

And now, on April 4, 2020, the nation will watch as Tiger Roll goes for that hat-trick.  It’s been an interesting lead-up, especially when owner Michael O’Leary played chicken with the handicapper over the weight given to Tiger Roll.  O’Leary was well aware that the media and racing public felt they were “owed” this race, and his threatening to pull Tiger Roll felt a little underhanded.  Tiger Roll received top weight for the race, and O’Leary seems resolved to the assignment.

As for his trainer, Gordon Elliott, a win will be confirmation that he currently is the best jumps trainer in the British Isles.  He has a friendly rivalry with compatriot Willie Mullins, but Elliott has arguably stepped out of Mullins’ shadow in recent years.  A Tiger Roll victory next month will add further weight to the consensus that the younger Irishman has outstripped the old master.

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