Donoghue relishing chance to get back on Tiger after watching from sidelines
Incredibly clever is how Keith Donoghue has described Tiger Roll after he emulated Red Rum by defending his Grand National crown on Saturday, and the rider is already licking his lips at the prospect of partnering racing's latest legend in next year's Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Donoghue knows Tiger Roll better than most having been on board for six of his last eight starts and he watched his buddy create history under Davy Russell from the comfort of the Aintree grandstand on Saturday.
His intended National mount Outlander was sold on Thursday night, with new connections booking James Bowen.
"Once I wasn't riding for Gordon [Elliott] with Outlander running under a different trainer, it didn't bother me too much," he reflected on Sunday.
"I'd have loved to have ridden in the race, but I wasn't devastated. It meant more to me that I was riding for Gordon. He's been the one who has saved my career."
Unlike last year's Grand National, when Donoghue finished eighth on Valseur Lido, this time he was able to watch Tiger Roll's every move alongside his father Michael, and he knew history was in the making from a very early stage.
Donoghue said: "He was loving it from the word go and always looked happy. He always just finds positions for himself. He makes things so easy for whoever's on him.
"He's incredibly clever. When I won the Boyne Hurdle on him at Navan, he clipped the top bar of every hurdle. If I hadn't known him I'd have told Gordon there's no way he could ever run in a chase. But that's just him.
"Whether he's jumping a hurdle or jumping the Chair he knows exactly how much height he needs to clear it. It doesn't matter to him what he's jumping."
Donoghue is already gazing into the future and imagining what it will be like to ride Tiger Roll in his hat-trick attempt in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in 2020.
"He'll be the shortest price in Cheltenham history, won't he?" said Donoghue.
"What a little legend he is. The thing about him now is that he knows how good he is. He absolutely adores the attention. The more confident he is, the better he is. He knows he's top dog.
"Getting to ride him around Navan was a bonus for me this year. I was delighted to see him winning the National again as much as anybody. I'd have loved to ride him but certainly didn't begrudge Davy winning on him again. I had my day in the sun at Cheltenham and hopefully will get another day like that next year."
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