'I hope he runs for the public' - Gordon Elliott on Tiger Roll's National bid
Gordon Elliott is keen to give Tiger Roll the chance to land a record-equalling third Randox Grand National even though the 11-year-old was handed second top weight in the world's most famous steeplechase on Tuesday.
However, the trainer stressed that no decision has been made on whether the horse will return to Aintree, where his participation has been the subject of fierce speculation almost since he won the race for the second time in 2019.
Owner Michael O'Leary and his brother Eddie have been outspoken in their view that they would not allow Tiger Roll to take his chance unless he was "fairly treated at the weights" for the £750,000 handicap, threatening to divert him elsewhere.
The Gigginstown runner has been allotted 11st 9lb for the April 10 contest, receiving just 1lb from the three topweights, and defy a BHA rating of 166 if he is to emulate Red Rum's three National victories.
However, 12 months ago he topped the handicap himself with a mark of 170, and despite his owners' earlier protests he was given the all-clear to run only for the race to be lost due to the pandemic shutdown.
A rating of 166 does not faze Elliott, who said: "I have to concentrate on training the horse and I just hope his owner lets the horse run in the race for the public. Everyone will be looking forward to seeing the horse run again in the Grand National, but Michael will make that decision.
"I've not had a chance to speak to Michael, but I'm sure I'll be speaking to him later on. Michael always has the horse as the first and foremost and he loves Tiger Roll as does his family. He'll make the decision with the horse's best interests in mind.
"It will be disappointing for everyone if he doesn't turn up, but as you know, Michael makes the decisions. He is 7lb higher than what he won off before but it is probably fair enough. I sort of expected that really.
"From the bottom of my heart it is hard to see him having much less weight with him being such a specialist, but we have what we have so we have got to take it and hopefully he can do us proud."
Coral are offering 5-4 that Tiger Roll contests this year's Grand National and 4-7 that he does not line up.
Tiger Roll is a best-priced 20-1 to complete a National treble, and Elliott said: "He has got 166 and he won off 159 two years ago when the race was last run. He seems in good form at home and we are looking forward to the race.
"You are always hoping you are going to be a couple of pounds less than what you have been given, but to be honest we will just smile and take it.
"If you look at him he is not the biggest horse in the world, but he really seems to enjoy those fences."
The weights were framed by BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood, who ignored the owners' pleadings and said: "Mr and Mr O'Leary are perfectly entitled to their opinion and I'm perfectly entitled not to listen."
Tiger Roll, who has not been seen since he was pulled up in a Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in November, could continue his build-up to Aintree in Sunday's Boyne Hurdle at Navan, which he won before his 2019 National triumph and which has been added to ITV4's programme.
"He made a mistake the last day at Cheltenham and was lame after the race, but thankfully he is okay now," said Elliott, who trains 16 of the remaining 105 National entries. "We will just keep our heads up and hopefully he will be okay for the rest of the season.
"He is in the Boyne Hurdle at the weekend, but the ground is very soft so we might not run him. But if it isn't too bad he will run as he has run in it the last two years.
"He's in good form and if the ground is right for him we would like to run him as it's a race he has won before.
"I'm really looking forward to running him soon. He's been out hunting with Keith Donoghue on a couple of occasions and seems to enjoy it. He didn't jump a whole lot, but he hacked down the road with them and it definitely hasn't done him any harm."
Trevor Hemmings is hoping to become the first owner to win the race four times and believes his best chance is Cloth Cap, who was well backed on Tuesday and is now a best-priced 16-1, topping the market with several firms.
The Ladbrokes Trophy winner has been set 10st 5lb to carry, and trainer Jonjo O'Neill said: "I'm very happy with Cloth Cap. The important thing for him is the ground. He needs good ground so I hope they run out of water there!
"He jumps and he stays well so it's the obvious race to go for – 10st 5lb is a real nice weight and Trevor loves the National. We are hoping to get a prep race into him either at Kempton or Doncaster."
2021 Grand National weights: the top 80
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