The favourite for the 2020 Grand National, Tiger Roll continued a slow start to the calendar year with a second-place finish at Cheltenham on Wednesday.
Keith Donoghue saddled the 10-year-old to a tame display in the cross-country race in which he conceded his crown to French runner Easyland by 17 lengths without as much of a scrap. In the process, Easyland became the first cross-channel winner at this event for 15 years.
This comes just weeks after a fifth-place finish at Navan, though Tiger Roll wasn’t the odds-on favourite for that race like he was on Wednesday – the only two races the horse has ran since last year’s Aintree success.
Gordon Elliott’s horse remains the bookmakers’ favourite to defend his Grand National crown after winning the big one by 2¾ lengths last year, having also won in 2018 as well.
Bookmakers had Tiger Roll as the 4/1 favourite 12 months ago as Davy Russell saddled the horse to glory. The bookmakers aren’t so convinced on his chances at this year’s event right now, with his odds back at 8/1, though remaining as the favourite for now. The odds were previously 5/1.
However, there are little more than three weeks for the tired horse to reach peak condition if he is to make history and become the first to win three consecutive Grand Nationals.
Tiger Roll was the 8/11 starting favourite at Cheltenham on Wednesday, and aside from the opening two to three miles, he never looked like winning.
Concerning news for any punters that have already backed last year’s winner to make history at Aintree on the first weekend of April is that jockey Donoghue claimed that the horse run its heart out.
Tiger Roll was exhausted as he was led straight to the stables instead of making the typical walk back with the other placed horses. This isn’t uncommon for horses that are exhausted though, but it leaves one to question whether there is sufficient time between now Aintree to get the horse in the right form and condition.
Trainer Elliott used the condition of the ground at Cheltenham as an excuse as to why his horse didn’t ride home in first place, whilst also praising the winning jockey.
Willie Mullins’ Burrows Saint and Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now are currently the joint-second favourites for this year’s Grand National, with prices of 12/1. The latter was a winner in its last race at Naas in February.