Tiger Roll announced himself on the National Hunt with a brilliant performance to win the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham Festival last season. The bay gelding won the event before moving on to the Grand National where he etched his place in history by triumphing at Aintree.
Gordon Elliott’s charge will now aim to repeat his feat at Cheltenham and aim to become the third horse to have won the event two times. Only one competitor, Garde Champetre, has managed to secure back-to-back triumphs, but the nine-year-old has more than enough quality to join him in an elite company at the Festival.
There will be challenges from Enda Bolger’s yard. No trainer has been more successful in the Cross Country Chase than Bolger. Two of his finest horses – 2016 champion – Josies Orders and Auvergnat will be aiming to knock off Tiger Roll, although it will be a tough challenge at Cheltenham Festival.
Heading into Cheltenham Festival last season, Tiger Roll already had two triumphs under his belt during the week-long event. He won the Triumph Hurdle in 2014 and then the National Hunt Challenge Cup in 2017. Despite his pedigree on the course, the bay gelding was a 7/1 outsider for the event.
Tiger Roll delivered a dominant performance with Keith Donoghue in the saddle, pulling away from the field with his pace down the stretch. He closed out the victory by two lengths ahead of Urgent De Gregaine. The bay gelding used the momentum of his win to put forward a flawless outing at the National at Aintree. Pleasant Company almost nicked the race at the end, but Elliott’s charge claimed the crown by a head.
Tiger Roll returned for the new campaign at Cheltenham after an absence of six months from the track. He faced off against Josies Orders among other talented competitors. The nine-year-old was off the pace of his rival and finished down in fourth place in the Cross Country Handicap Chase, lacking fluency on the track. After another three months out, Tiger Roll was back to his best in the Boyne Hurdle. It was a shorter race than what he has become accustomed to, but he displayed his pace to close out a comfortable triumph by four lengths. Elliott’s charge will take some stopping.
The Irish-bred horse won the event at Cheltenham Festival in 2016 albeit due to the disqualification of Any Currency, who won the meet, but then tested positive for a banned substance. Bolger and company were not complaining, although his charge did lose his way after his triumph after suffering an injury. The bay gelding returned for a crack at the title last season, but was well off the pace, placing down in sixth, failing to cope with the speed of Tiger Roll. He improved towards the end of the campaign, finishing narrowly behind his stable-mate Auvergnat at the Cross Country Chase For The La Touche Cup before winning the Dooley Insurances Cross Country Chase at Punchestown.
Josies Orders made a slow start to the current campaign, finishing in 16th place in a 21-furlong meet. However, he found his form with a brilliant outing at the Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. Whereas Tiger Roll struggled, he was fluent and he had the speed when it mattered the most to defeat Fact Of The Matter. There was revenge for Fact Of The Matter in the second Handicap Chase meeting as Bolger’s charge finished third behind his compatriot and My Hometown. The Irish-bred horse was back to his best last time out, winning the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase to take momentum into the Festival.
The French-bred horse has finished in fourth place two years in a row at Cheltenham Festival in the Glenfarclas Chase. He has produced solid performance, but has not unlocked the true quality required to become a champion at the Festival. Auvergnat beat Josies Orders at the end of last season in the Cross Country Chase For The La Touche Cup at Punchestown, displaying a good burst down the stretch. However, he was unable to follow it up, placing in third at the National Handicap Chase after being backed as the favourite for the event.
Bolger’s charge made a slow start to the season, although the trainer put the horse forward for shorter races. It became clear that the bay gelding was not cut out for the 20 and 21-furlong events, placing in 15th and 11th in underwhelming performances. He proved his worth in his return to three-mile action at the Paddy Power Chase. Auvergnat was a 28/1 outsider for the race at Leopardstown, but was able to unleash the best outing of his career to date to win the event by six-and-a-half lengths. A similar outing could yield another triumph in the Glenfarclas Chase.
Urgent De Gregaine has competed only once since the race last season when he took to the track in Autueil at the Prix Montgomery. The bay gelding was an outsider for the race and he struggled to find his rhythm before pulling up, ending the meet prematurely. Given his past form at the event he could be an outsider, although he does not the momentum of the other competitors.
Josies Orders has pedigree in the event, while Bolger has enjoyed a dominance over the Cross Country Chase, winning the race five times.
If anyone can stop Tiger Roll it could be the Irish-bred horse, although his form has been inconsistent over the course of the term. Elliott’s charge was rounding into form nicely and odds of 11/102.10+1101.101.10-0.91 with 888Sport, he is the option to take for the race.