It was billed as an almighty clash between two of the best long distanced chasers. Tiger Roll and Easysland were going head-to-head again in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the November Cheltenham Festival. Odds were short on both but given Easysland’s triumphant win in the March race, he went off as the favourite on 8/11.
Tiger Roll had already stretched his legs at Navan in October, finishing sixth in the Flower Hill Maiden. It may have been disappointing but as he hadn’t run in seven months, it was forgivable. Easysland however, had not had a run since his win at Cheltenham.
So with the two lined up and raring to go, the Glenfarclas got underway. Trained by Michael Scudamore and ridden by Tom Scudamore, Kingswell Theatre led from the off. And that’s pretty much where he stayed for the entire 3m6f of the race. Tiger Roll never made any of the running. By the seventh fence, he was 15L off the leaders. BY the 20th fence he was being ridden along but to no avail. He was last in the field and jockey Robbie Power pulled him up.
Easysland for his part also seemed to lack the sparkle we saw in March. He made numerous mistakes and despite going third after the 24th, lost his position. Two out he was 12 lengths down and though he stayed on the run-in he ultimately finished in fourth place.
After The Race
It was a huge shock to see Tiger Roll being pulled up. Connections could offer no explanation for his poor performance and the vet gave him the all-clear.
Robbie Power said: “Tiger Roll was never travelling and never had a cut at his fences. I pulled him up as he was in no sort of rhythm.”
Following the race trainer, Gordon Elliott lamented that maybe Tiger Roll’s best days are now behind him.
He said: Elliott said: “It was disappointing. He never really travelled or jumped. He’s not getting any younger.
“Maybe his better days are behind him. We’ll see how he is, but on his last two runs, he doesn’t look like the horse he was last year.
“We’ll see how he is. There’s no excuse, maybe he’s just getting older.”
With the dust settled, Elliott was happy to give fans an update on Saturday morning via Twitter and Facebook.
Tiger travelled back safely last night and is out with The Storyteller today. Our vet checked him over and is happy but he’ll get a full M.O.T next week. He’s still a horse of a lifetime! #Legend pic.twitter.com/969jSLT1F2
— Gordon Elliott (@gelliott_racing) November 14, 2020
He confirmed that the vet had checked him over but that Tiger Roll would still be getting a full M.O.T. this week.
Grand National 2021 Odds
Never have the bookmakers been so quick to change the odds as they were on Friday. Almost as soon as the race was over, Tiger Roll was removed from both the 2021 Grand National and Cheltenham betting markets. Even Easysland’s odds were cut from 25/1 to 33/1.
Tiger Roll had been as short as 12/1 ante-post for the Grand National. However, talk of retirement and the uncertainty of what caused such a lackluster performance had bookies worried. So across the board Tiger Roll was out of the betting.
That leaves the Willie Mullins trained Burrows Saint as the ante-post front runner. That’s only interesting because he hasn’t been seen since December 2019. He didn’t go to Cheltenham, and he hasn’t had a run so far this season. At the time of writing, he also doesn’t have any provisional entries on the calendar either.
So is it a bit optimistic to think he could win the Grand National? Possibly when you consider that Potters Corner claimed a solid third place ahead of both Easysland and Tiger Roll on Friday. Plus he is likely to have a run in the Welsh National in December. Maybe he’s a better bet?
All that said, the 2021 Grand National is still months away. Anything can happen between now and then. So will Tiger Roll take his chances or is time to retire the legend? Only time will tell.