No horse has done it since Red Rum. Winning back-to-back Grand Nationals has proved to be almost impossible. And that’s exactly what jockey Davy Russell says about the 2018 winner, Tiger Roll.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the win was by the smallest of margins when a photo finish was needed to determine the winner in 2018. Tiger Roll just eeked across the line ahead of the Willie Mullins trained Pleasant Company. And no sooner had he won the biggest race of his life, and speculation was already beginning for his 2019 chances.
With the dust now settled on the win, attentions have been turned to the 2019 race. When asked if Tiger Roll had a chance of a second National, Russell said: “You need an extraordinary horse to do that.”
That’s not to say that Tiger Roll isn’t an extraordinary horse. But the conditions were ideal last year. His weight of 10-13 will almost certainly be increased. This will make things significantly more difficult.
Where it all began for wannabe Cork hurler turned Grand National winning jockey, @_Davy_Russel_. Watch the rest of the interview on @RTE2 this afternoon as part of #RTEracing @leopardstownRC coverage pic.twitter.com/WlxI2s182I
— RTÉ Racing (@RTEracing) December 28, 2018
Added to the that is the fact that his seasonal return wasn’t great. He could only manage 4th from seven runners at Cheltenham in the Cross Country in November. Although last season he ran that same race and finished in 5th place. So it’s not a particularly good indicator of his current form. He is a horse that improves as the seasonal progresses.
While Russell may be playing down Tiger Roll’s chances of another win, he hasn’t ruled it out completely saying: “He is probably the type of horse that could because he doesn’t over-exert himself through the season.”
And that’s what Gordon Elliott is banking on. This time around however, it looks like Tiger Roll will head to the Cheltenham Festival before the 2019 Grand National. Ideally the cross country would suit him. Elliott has also mooted a possible return to hurdles. He said: “I’ll probably give him one more run over hurdles before March to open his windpipes up.”
Either way, bookmakers seem to like the idea of another win for Tiger Roll. Betfred have installed him as joint favourite on ante-post odds of 20/1. Betfair and Paddy Power have better odds at 25/1.