WILL HE, or won’t he? TIGER ROLL is only 50-50 to bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of successive victories in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in April after he was given top weight.
Only the legendary Red Rum has won the world’s most famous steeplechase three times, although not in consecutive years, and Tiger Roll’s connections have spent the past 10 months warning that their 10-year-old would not attempt the hat-trick if they considered he had been treated unfairly by the handicapper.
Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for his brother Michael’s Gigginstown House Stud, told Sky Sports Racing: “This horse loves the discipline – any horse competing around Aintree loves the discipline, they wouldn’t be there otherwise. These horses come alive at Aintree over the fences, they absolutely love the discipline.
“It’s not a welfare issue – he was always going to carry 11st 10lb, we understand that, but it’s how he’s compressed in regard to other horses.
“Native River – a Gold Cup winner – hacked up last Saturday. He’s been compressed 2lb and we have to give him 4lb. I see something very unfair there.
“The handicapper has his job to do and he’s done it. We wanted more (compression in the handicap). The decision is now in our hands whether we run or not. Tiger is invaluable to us and we have to look after him.”
A four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Tiger Roll had a setback earlier in the season and is due to return in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan this weekend. He is then likely to head to Cheltenham for the Cross Country and good performances in both might make it easier for trainer Gordon Elliott to persuade the hard-nosed Ryanair boss that he should give punters the right to see history in the making.
Haydock’s Grand National Trial tomorrow (Saturday) is under threat from Storm Dennis but if the meeting does go ahead, the Paul Nicholls-trained YALA ENKI looks each way value at 7/1 with Carrigill’s. Back at his favourite venue and on ground likely to suit, he looked in decent shape at Taunton last month where he overcame a couple of late mistakes to beat Rock The Kasbah.
It could be a huge day for Nicholls as QUEL DESTIN looks the one to beat over 1m 7 1/2f in Wincanton’s Kingwell Hurdle at 2.45. He enjoyed dropping back to the minimum trip at Sandown last time out, staying on strongly to beat Call Me Lord.
Ascot’s headline race is the Betfair Ascot Chase, where CYRNAME is the big jolly at his favourite stomping ground, but there are better betting heats at the Berkshire track and the progressive staying chaser SAM BROWN can rack up a hat-trick in the Grade 2 novice chase at 1.50.
Anthony Honeyball’s strapping eight-year-old hasn’t been the easiest to handle with only six appearances over the last three years, but when he does make it to the racecourse he’s very hard to beat. The 3m trip is just what he needs with no concerns going right-handed as he’s won at the likes of Wincanton in the past.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if it finishes outside top four. Write Augur on your slip to qualify):
YALA ENKI, Haydock, Saturday, 3.15.
Augur’s best bet:
SAM BROWN (e/w), Ascot, Saturday, 1.50.