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Elliott on a roll as Tiger leads stable trio chasing a Grand National double

Tiger Roll and Keith Donoghue clear the last to win the Glenfarcas Cross Country Chase
Tiger Roll and Keith Donoghue clear the last to win the Cross Country Chase at CheltenhamCredit: Patrick McCann (

Gordon Elliott expects to launch a three-pronged challenge in his bid to complete a great Grand National double on Saturday week, with the trainer believing Davy Russell's well-backed mount Tiger Roll will adore the unique challenge of the Aintree spectacular.

Elliott added yet another major prize to his haul on Monday when General Principle gave him a coveted first success in the Irish Grand National.

Now the man leading Willie Mullins in the Irish trainers' championship is eyeing up a second victory in the Randox Health Grand National, in which Tiger Roll – who last month ran away with the Cheltenham Festival's Cross Country Chase – will be joined by Ucello Conti and Bless The Wings.

Gordon Elliott watches the Cross Country race, won by the trainer’s Tiger Roll – already the winner of the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase in previous years
Gordon Elliott watches the Cross Country race, won by the trainer’s Tiger Roll – already the winner of the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase in previous yearsCredit: Patrick McCann

Ladbrokes and Coral on Tuesday cut Tiger Roll into 10-1 Grand National co-favouritism alongside the Mullins-trained Total Recall and Blaklion, continuing the steady market reduction in the odds about an eight-year-old who will be ridden by Russell for the first time since 2014, the year in which the pairing captured the Triumph Hurdle.

Watch Tiger Roll's latest Cheltenham triumph

Keith Donoghue, who partnered Tiger Roll at Cheltenham last time, cannot make the 10st 12lb weight on Saturday week.

Like General Principle – who holds an Aintree entry but is unlikely to run again this season – Tiger Roll represents Gigginstown House Stud, who claimed the National two years ago with Rule The World.

Tiger Roll and Keith Donoghue in action on the Cross Country course
Tiger Roll takes the final fence of the festival's Cross Country ChaseCredit: John Grossick

"Tiger Roll is in very good form and I couldn't be happier with him," Elliott reported on Tuesday.

"I think he'll love the National. The fences will light him up. It's the Grand National, and you need a lot of luck and for everything to go right, but I think the race will suit him.

"The one worry would be the weather and what sort of ground they get. The better the ground at Aintree the better his chance, but there's still nearly two weeks until the race and with a dry week the ground should start to dry."

Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge said: "Punters are piling on the Gigginstown bandwagon once again after Elliott's Irish National win. Tiger Roll has been a popular selection since his victory at Cheltenham and stays all day, so it's not a huge surprise to see money for him."

Ucello Conti has been trained for the Grand National all season
Ucello Conti has been trained for the Grand National all seasonCredit: Caroline Norris

Elliott is also looking forward to running Ucello Conti, who was still moving easily when exiting at the second jumping of Becher's Brook 12 months ago, and Jack Kennedy's mount Bless The Wings. The trainer's 2017 Grand National second Cause Of Causes remains unlikely to return.

Elliott – successful at Aintree with Silver Birch in 2007 – added: "Ucello Conti was running very well until he unseated last year and we've trained him for the race all season. He's in great form.

"He's a good horse and this has been the plan. I'm 99 per cent sure Daryl Jacob rides.

"The ground was too soft for Bless The Wings at Fairyhouse, so Brian Hughes wisely pulled him up. He isn't getting any younger but if you're not in you can't win."

Elliott also confirmed he will otherwise largely sit out Aintree in a bid to keep his stable's stars back for the final battle with the Mullins equine army at Punchestown.

"Aintree will be just a social week for me, unfortunately," he said, adding: "Everything will be kept for Punchestown."

Like General Principle, Irish Grand National fifth Bellshill will not be travelling to Britain, with Mullins on Monday ruling out a trip to Aintree, where Silver Birch's jockey Robbie Power has been named as intended partner of Welsh Grand National winner Raz De Maree.

A packed Aintree for the Randox Health Grand National
Aintree clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch describes the Grand National course as soft, heavy in placesCredit: Michael Steele

Giving the latest Aintree going report on Tuesday, clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said: "On the Grand National course we're mainly soft with a couple of heavy places around the Canal Turn and Valentine's Brook. The Mildmay course would be good to soft.

"Sunday and yesterday were pretty horrible, with 22mm of rain yesterday, but the course has taken it well. Although it looks as though we're going to be between 12C and 14C over the coming days, it would be helpful if we could be warmer than that to encourage the grass to start growing.

"We could have showers this week, a few of them heavy, but at this stage it's too far out to be making any predictions about the ground we'll have from next Thursday."

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Lee MottersheadSenior writer

Published on 3 April 2018inNews

Last updated 13:14, 5 April 2018