Tiger Roll takes encouraging first step on road to Grand National by finishing fifth in Boyne Hurdle at Navan
- Tiger Roll was just pipped for fourth place in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan
- Tiger Roll aiming to join Red Rum as three-time winner of the Grand National
- Tiger Roll only returned to training on January 1 after undergoing an operation
Tiger Roll took an encouraging first step back on the road to the Randox Heath Grand National when just pipped for fourth in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding will chase history at Aintree on April 4 when trying to join legendary Red Rum as a three-time winner of Britain’s biggest steeplechase.
Having been off the course since beating Magic of Light in the 2019 Grand National and having only returned to training on January 1 after an operation to remove a bone chip from his knee in November, expectations were modest in Tiger Roll who started at 9-1 in a race he had won 12 months earlier.
Tiger Roll was just pipped for fourth place in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan as he returned
But he displayed the light-footedness that has served him so well at Aintree with a neat hurdling display, still looking in contention to finish in the first three under jockey Keith Donoghue until his lack of peak fitness took its toll approaching the final hurdle in a race won by his stablemate Cracking Smart.
Elliott said: ‘Keith said he was cantering to the second last. He thought he was going to win but he took a blow and he then rode him hands and heels to the line.
‘I would have been thrilled if he had beaten one or two home. I thought there were a lot of plusses to be taken out of the race.’
The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding is attempting to win the Grand National for the third time
Tiger Roll, who was beaten by 14¼ lengths and whose presence doubled the normal attendance at his local course, is 5-1 favourite with Ladbrokes for the Grand National in which he will carry top weight if 11st 10lb.
He is 13-8 to win the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month for the third time. That’s the immediate target of Tiger Roll and if he wins it will be a fifth success at the Festival.
Elliott will follow his usual routine of taking Tiger Roll to Cheltenham in the next fortnight for a warm-up spin around the Cross Country course.
Meanwhile, two-time champion Flat jockey Paul Hanagan is facing a prolonged spell on the sidelines after fracturing his T6 vertebra in fall at Newcastle on Saturday night.