Will Tiger Roll Defend His Crown At The Grand National?

The Grand National is the prize that owners, trainers and jockeys crave most of all in jumps racing.

No race can match the National for grandeur and its place in history. A win at Aintree etches the winner into a special place in horse racing folklore.

Tiger Roll secured his place in history by winning the event last year with a fine performance. He just had enough to fend off a late challenge by Pleasant Company on the line to take his place in the winners’ enclosure.

Gordon Elliott’s charge now has the challenge of becoming the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to defend his crown at Aintree. It has been 44 years since Red Rum achieved the feat, and Tiger Roll has a special aura about him that could see him make the breakthrough.

However, there a lot of competitors in the field that will be determined to knock him off his perch. The National has a healthy habit of producing winners from the field – from decent shouts to rank outsiders. Therefore the odds are stacked against Tiger Roll in his bid to win successive Nationals.

Tiger Roll

Will Tiger Roll earn a place in history?

The bay gelding arrives at Aintree as the favourite for the event. Last year he was a 10/1 shout and delivered a brilliant performance to take the crown. Davy Russell in the saddle set out his stall to take command of the contest. No other horse could match his pace for the majority of the meet, although Pleasant Company made a late charge. Tiger Roll held out for the victory by a head to take the crown to earn a place in the history of the National.

He has since enhanced his reputation with his fourth victory at Cheltenham Festival. Tiger Roll won the Cross Country Chase last season before his win at Aintree. He was dominant in 2018 at Cheltenham and was equally as dominant this term. Elliott’s charge controlled the race before he found his surge to speed away from the rest of the field. The rest of the competitors were not even in the picture down the straight as the nine-year-old claimed the win by 22 lengths.

Due to the handicap Tiger Roll has to put on weight for the National, which could count against him given that he was under 11 stone last year. The weight along with the favourite tag are factors that could result in a failure, although he’s a rare talent. His best odds for the event are +400   with 888Sport.

Rathvinden

The Irish-bred horse put forward his credentials for the Grand National with a brilliant performance to win the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. He was one of the leading contenders for the crown, and was able to rise to the occasion with an impressive ride. Rathvinden kept pace with the early leaders with Paul Townend in the saddle. The jockey then made the right decision to up the ante two fences before the end of the race, speeding down the stretch to beat out Alpha Des Obeaux by three-and-a-half lengths. It was his first victory in 11 months as he missed the early stages of the 2018/19 season.

The 10-year-old last triumphed on the track at Cheltenham in March 2018 in the National Hunt Chase. He does have a strong pedigree, but whether it’s enough to topple a horse of the calibre of Tiger Roll is another matter. Rathvinden has operated in the upper echelons of weight so he will be used to the handicap, at weights of over 11-and-a-half stone. However, he has not race at Aintree before, which could be a major detriment. Treat his odds of +1000   with caution at Bet365.

Vintage Clouds

Vintage Clouds has a point to prove

Vintage Clouds will aim to deliver a second success in the National for trainer Sue Smith. She trained Auroras Encore to victory in 2013 as a 66/1 outsider for the event. Her charge on this occasion has stronger credentials than his predecessor. Vintage Clouds has only entered the winners’ enclosure twice since October 2017, one of those triumphs come at Aintree in the Interactive Chase. The bay gelding has been extremely consistent in his form, but has not managed to notch the major victory to make the breakthrough on the grand stage.

He ended the last campaign with a third-place finish at the Scottish Grand National, failing to muster a surge to beat out Joe Farrell for the crown. Vintage Clouds did open the current season with a victory at Haydock Park. He followed up his good effort by pulling up at the Welsh Grand National where he was considered a good shout at 8/1 to take the crown.

Smith’s charge did bounce back somewhat with a good run in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Although for the second year on the spin, he failed to close out the victory as Beware The Bear won the event. The big occasion has not suited Vintage Clouds therefore it would be a surprise to see him beat out Tiger Roll or the field at Aintree, although +1400   with 888Sport is a solid price.

Anibale Fly

AJ Martin’s charge has been on the periphery of success over the last year. He finished third at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2018, failing to match the pace of winner Native River and his rival Might Bite. Tiger Roll blew him and the rest of the field away for the majority of the National, settling for a fourth-place finish at Aintree last season.

On his return to the track, he was off the pace in a two-mile event in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase, placing in sixth at Cork.  However, he found a semblance of his best form in the Red Mills Chase, despite losing out to Monalee by two lengths at Gowran Park. Anibale Fly was an outsider for the Gold Cup, with his odds in the 22/1 range.

He still put forward a decent effort, remaining with the leading group down the stretch. However, when Al Boum Photo pulled away, he was unable to keep stride and was forced to settle for second – two-and-half-lengths behind the winner. History and the weight handicap are not on his side, especially against the elite of the jumps racing field. Take the value of +1400   with 888Sport if betting on Martin’s charge.

Anibale Fly
grand national
Rathvinden
Tiger Roll
Vintage Clouds

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