Tiger Roll became a Grand National legend on Saturday. As he became the first horse since Red Rum to win the race two years on the trot.
Like Red Rum, Tiger Roll is bred to be a flat horse, and he’s not exactly built to jump a fence either. But like “Rummy”, he’s just a freak of horse. Travelling powerfully through the race in mid-division. He stumbled four out, but soon recovered, and once again was cantering all over his rivals when taking it up between the final two fences.
The 9-year-old soon pulled clear, although the margin of victory was only 2 ¾ lengths. Like last year, the gelding seemed to idle out in front on the run-in, which allowed runners-up Magic Of Light and Rathvinden to get closer than seemed likely after jumping the last.
He deserves his place in the history books, thats for sure. However, it’s fair to say his achievement can’t be equated with Red Rum’s given the size of the fences has changed so much in recent years. Indeed, it’s highly likely if Tiger Roll had been facing the Aintree fences of the 1970s & 80s, I doubt he would have completed the race, let alone become a dual winner of the race.
The race produced one fatality as Up For Review was brought down by the well fancied Vintage Clouds at the first, and sustained a life ending injury. Fortunately, Vintage Clouds suffered no ill effects after his fall at the first.
Yes, the fences are a lot easier than they were. The purists will no doubt bemoan the fact that so many horses are still racing coming to the second circuit. However, too many high-class horses have lost their lives in the race. The National fences are now designed to save horses, and that’s what they do. In these changed times, it’s what jumps racing needs.
Pleasant Company, my selection for the race in last week’s blog, ran a cracker. He was still in contention for place when unseating his rider four out.
On the day, the race belonged to Tiger Roll, as the little horse with the big heart jumped into horse racing history.
I’m sure he will bid for a third win in 2020. He will no doubt carry top weight, which won’t be easy considering his size. Nonetheless, it will still take a well handicapped rival to beat him.
The Cap Fits for Sean
The 3m ½ f Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle produced the most exciting finish of the three days of the Grand National Festival. Coming to the last three horses, Apples Jade, Roksana and If The Cap Fits were in contention. The latter made a bad mistake at the last, which looked to have ended his winning chance. On the run-in Apples Jade looked like she would hold on but Cheltenham Festival winner Roksana overhauled her in the final few yards. Only for the rallying If The Cap Fits to stick his head out and win the race when it mattered. There was just a head & neck between these three brave horses at the finish.
The race was a notable triumph for the jockey Sean Bowen, who was winning his first Grade 1 race of his short career. There will be plenty more for this fine young jockey, and his burgeoning partnership with trainer Harry Fry will help him in that regard.
The First Classic Trials
Whilst the eyes of the racing world were on Aintree. Over the Irish Sea at Leopardstown it was the first of this season’s Classic Trials.
Don’t Give Up On Madhmoon
The 2,000 Guineas Trial was won by the Aiden O’Brien trained Never No More, who beat odds on favourite Madhmoon by ½ length. If you fancy the runner-up for the English 2000 Guineas, you shouldn’t be too concerned with the three-year-old’s performance. He was trying to give a race-fit rival 3lb, and was dropping back to 7f, both last seasons’ two wins came at a mile. It was also the colt’s first go on soft ground.
So, in the circumstances, it seemed a bit of an overaction from the bookies to push him out to a best priced 25/1 for the first English Classic of the season. The extra furlong of the 2000 Guineas, a sounder surface, and with his seasonal reappearance under his belt, he looks solid each-way value at 20/1, or bigger, for Newmarket.
Iridessa Stakes 1000 Guineas Claim
The 1000 Guineas Trial was a triumph for the Shelia Lavery trained Lady Kaya. In terms of the first filly’s classic of the season, it may pay to take into account the third home in the race in Iridessa. Last year’s Newmarket Fillies Mile winner was making her seasonal reappearance over 7f.
Weak in the market, and racing on soft ground, she looked to have needed the run. This run should bring her on fitness wise, and she will of course be well suited by the extra furlong in the 1000 Guineas.
The daughter of Derby winner, Ruler Of The World, is a best priced 16/1 for the first fillies Classic and shouldn’t be underestimated, as she’s well suited by the C&D.
Next weekend we have the first Guineas Trials over this side of the Irish Sea, with the latest renewals of the Fred Darling Stakes & the Greenham Stakes.
Fred Darling Stakes Trainer Records
Looking at the first race. One trainer whose runners are worth noting are:
Ralph Beckett – 3 winners from 5 runners + 20.5 4 placed 80% (+26.00)
The Greenham meeting has been a successful one for John Gosden. Since 2015 the Newmarket trainer has had 11 winners from 27 runners 41% +19 A/E 1.64 21 placed 78%
Good luck with this week’s punting.
Until next week.