LONDON: Tiger Roll’s bid to become the first horse to win the Grand National three times in a row hangs in the balance after the owner’s manager said being allocated a top weight of 11 stone 10 pounds (74 kilogrammes) on Tuesday (Feb 11) is a “little disappointing”.
The 10-year-old gelding last year became the first horse since the legendary Red Rum (1973/74) to win the steeple chase in consecutive years.
Red Rum went on to claim a third triumph at the race in 1977.
Red Rum was carrying 12 stone when he won his second National and 11 stone eight pounds in 1977.
Tiger Roll is the joint-top weight with Delta Force, also trained by Irishman Gordon Elliott, for the race on Apr 4 at Aintree Racecourse.
Each contender is allotted a different weight based on their form, as the National is a ‘handicap’ chase.
Tiger Roll’s owner Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary had suggested if he was not satisfied with the weight he could well pull him out.
Eddie O’Leary, the owner’s brother and racing manager, has said before top weights in recent years have been generously handled by the handicapper – that was not his opinion about their treatment.
“It’s a bit disappointing given the recent history,” Eddie O’Leary said on Tuesday, pointing out Tiger Roll is being asked to give 4lb to Native River, the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
“He’s alongside Delta Work, who’s almost certain not to run, so he’ll be stuck up there on his own.”
Tiger Roll is due to run for the first time since winning his second National when he lines up for the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in Ireland on Sunday.
He is then slated to bid for a third successive victory in the Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in England in March.
He is obliged to run in a chase event before Aintree in order to qualify for the National.
“What’s far more important for us at the moment is that he’s a sound, happy horse for Navan on Sunday,” said Eddie O’Leary.
“Hopefully from there he’ll go to the Cheltenham Festival and then we’ll make a decision, but he will also have an entry in the (Grade One) Betfair Bowl (the day before the National).”
A maximum of 40 runners can line-up for the test of jumping ability and stamina confronting the fearsome 30 fences over four miles (6.4 kilometres).