The racing world was watching Tiger Roll at Cheltenham on Wednesday afternoon, on March 11th. He was bidding for a fifth festival win in total, and a third straight win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. This is his traditional prep run before the Grand National and 2020 was no different.

After a satisfactory reappearance in the Boyne Hurdle last month, plenty was expected from Tiger Roll. As a result, he was sent off as an odds-on favourite at Cheltenham. However, in the end, he was only able to finish second in a race won by Easysland.

There will be many out there that will be disappointed with the run, and the bookmakers certainly weren’t impressed. They pushed him out in the betting for the Aintree showpiece from around 5/1 to 8/1. However, if you take the winner out of the race then Tiger Roll comfortably beat the rest of the field with ease. It was just like he did last season.

The winner is trained by David Cottin in France and came over to win well at the course earlier in the season. He is clearly a horse going places and JP McManus bought him in February, following his win at Cheltenham. He gave himself a serious chance in the race and it paid off.

Grand National Chances

The feeling after the race, from Gordon Elliott, is that Tiger Roll will come on again for the run. He wasn’t as fit for the race as he had been in the past. Despite this, he ran a great race, though there is a lot of pressure on him going into the national. While having a Cheltenham winner is nice, the Grand National is the only race that counts this season for Tiger Roll.

Elliott said: “I’m delighted with Tiger Roll as the soft ground was against him.

“That will put him right and I’m happy going to Aintree.”

This was also probably the toughest test he’s had in the race so far too. You only have to look at the gap between the two leading horses and the rest of the field to see how good they are. Potentially, Easysland could dominate the Cross Country Chases for the next few years. If that is the case then there is no shame in coming a close second to him.

Backing Tiger Roll

If you are planning to back Tiger Roll, or already have done, don’t give up on him yet. He’s eased out in price to more realistic odds, which is where he should have been all along.

However, he’s done nothing wrong in defeat against what is a very good horse. His entire season has revolved around being ready for April at Aintree, so expect to see him turn up there as an even fitter and better horse.

With a love for the course, fences and distance, it is going to still take a very good performance to beat him. He will certainly go down fighting. We now have just three weeks to go until the big race and those final preparations are well underway. That is, of course, provided the race still goes ahead amidst the covid-19 chaos.