It's on! Gordon Elliott confirms Grand National as main target for Tiger Roll
Tiger Roll will be targeted at the Randox Health Grand National after Gordon Elliott confirmed the two-time Aintree hero will bid to become the first horse to win the £1 million race for a third consecutive year.
After becoming the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in April, the line from Tiger Roll's owners Gigginstown House Stud had been the nine-year-old was unlikely to return to Aintree to bid for a historic third consecutive National in a row.
However, in an interview with Aintree racecourse, Tiger Roll's trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed the Grand National on April 4 is very much on the agenda for his superstar, who will also bid for a fifth Cheltenham Festival success in March.
Elliott thinks Tiger Roll will have an outstanding chance to make history if his preparation goes as planned. He said: "It's great to see him back, doing a bit of work again. He has had a nice couple of months of summer holidays. He will probably do three or four weeks of Flat work before he comes back to us in the main yard here.
"Obviously he won't be that busy this year. We are going to have to mind him now and pick and choose where we go. He will probably have one run over hurdles, maybe something like the Boyne Hurdle [Navan, February] again. He will go back to Cheltenham [March] for the cross-country race and then we'll go for the Grand National."
He added: "I suppose last year  we thought he would hose up until the last 50 yards and he just nearly got caught. I was still confident when he had got past the line last year that he had won but, until they call the result, you never know.
"This year was probably easier to watch. He travelled and jumped and did everything right. You know, it's a funny thing to say but he was arguably a better horse this year than he was last year.
"I think the build-up to the English National this season is going to be unbelievable. The hype – people are talking about him already. Whether he wins, loses or draws if he gets back there to have a go at three in a row it's going to be great. The hype is going to be brilliant."
Tiger Roll is one of the highest-rated chasers in training with a mark of 172, but Elliott is not tempted to run him in one of the top Grade 1 races in the jumps calendar.
He said: "People tell me I should be entering him in Stayers' Hurdles or Gold Cups, but I was always taught and I am a big believer in going for the race you think you can win at the Cheltenham Festival and the race I think I can win is the cross-country race, so that's where he will go. But the number one target this year will be the English National."
Elliott admits he only realised how much his superstar meant to people after his second win in the race. He explained: "You don't really realise how much the horse meant to everyone. You see all the kids and all the different people who came to the yard.
"You don't really appreciate it when you are in the bubble yourself. You don't realise how much of a thing there is about this horse. It's only after when you sit back and you watch the videos and read all the paper clippings, people have really got to like him.
"You know, he has got a great name, Tiger Roll, and he's got a great heart. Everyone who comes into the yard, there's only one horse they want to see and that is Tiger Roll. He's a people's horse now and we are very lucky to have him.
"Red Rum was before my time but you've seen the videos and heard all about him. He was an amazing horse and to be in the same league as him is unbelievable."
Tiger Roll is a best-priced 8-1 with William Hill, Betfair and Paddy Power to win his third Grand National in April.
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