Tiger Roll is “full of beans” as the people’s horse continues his recovery from injury and there should not be any fitness concerns if his seasonal reappearance comes at the Cheltenham Festival in March, according to regular work rider Lisa O’Neill.
Doubts were cast over whether the loveable ten-year-old would return this season having had a chip removed from a joint in November, but Gordon Elliott reported him to be “in great nick” earlier this week and O’Neill confirmed his rude health.
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“He’s back on the gallop at the moment. He’s full of beans, healthy and well and everything seems to be going well. It’s full steam ahead,” O’Neill said at yesterday’s launch of the 2020 Goffs Thyestes Chase, which takes place on Thursday, January 23 at Gowran Park.
“Fingers crossed, they’re optimistic about the Boyne Hurdle (February 16), it’s not ruled out, so it all depends on the progress and how he improves over the next few weeks and months.”
Having ridden Tiger Roll to success in the National Hunt Cup three years ago at Cheltenham – one of his four Festival victories – O’Neill has no worries should the Authorized gelding return to the Cotswolds for his remarkable hat-trick bid in the Cross Country Chase without a prep run.
“None at all,” O’Neill said of any concerns. “He’s the type of horse that Cheltenham sets him alight. You can tell it in his character too. When he rides out in Cheltenham, even the few mornings previous to his run, the place sets him alive.”
While the Cross Country Chase has been mooted as possibly his final race by Gigginstown House Stud owner Michael O’Leary, O’Neill expects him to have his date with destiny in Aintree the following month as he bids to become the first horse to win three Grand Nationals in succession.
“The Cross Country races have made him. When I rode him in the four-miler, he wasn’t very fluent over the normal obstacles. Aintree is his playing field. Like Cheltenham, he comes alive there.
“But the Cross Country races have sparked something new in him. Fingers crossed he’ll get to Aintree in one piece and he can go for the third Grand National.”
Meanwhile, racing at Clonmel today features a tasty Mares Maiden Hurdle (12.20) with Daryl Jacob making the trip to partner Elliott’s Flying Risk having scored at Ludlow yesterday on his return from a broken hand.
Willie Mullins has landed the only two renewals of this contest, however, and the Closutton maestro may have another smart prospect in Getaway Gorgeous.