Tiger Roll set weighty task to emulate Red Rum National history

Tiger Roll will have to carry a pound more in weight than Red Rum did winning his third Grand National when he tries to emulate him on April 10
Tiger Roll will have to carry a pound more in weight than Red Rum did winning his third Grand National when he tries to emulate him on April 10 Paul ELLIS AFP
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London (AFP)

Tiger Roll's historic bid to win three consecutive Grand Nationals will see him carry a pound more than Red Rum did when the 1973/74 winner entered racing folklore with a third Aintree crown in 1977.

Tiger Roll -- owned by Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary -- has been allocated sixth top weight of 11 stone 9 pounds (73.94 kilogrammes) for the race at Aintree on April 10.

The weights for the marathon steeplechasing colossus which was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic were announced on Tuesday.

Top class jumper Bristol de Mai tops the weights with 11st 10lbs along with two other runners including last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Santini.

The National is the one great prize missing from Santini's legendary English trainer Nicky Henderson's trophy cabinet.

Elliott said Tiger Roll is in fine form and has recovered from an underwhelming last outing at Cheltenham earlier this season when he returned lame.

The Irish handler has 16 entries in the race which if he wins will see him join Red Rum's late trainer Ginger McCain and Fred Rimell as the most successful with four victories.

He says, though, that whilst he is desperate for Tiger Roll to run it will be up to O'Leary if he does.

- 'Hole in it!' -

The size of his task is illustrated by only eight winners in the last 30 editions carrying 11 stone or more.

Many Clouds carried the same weight as him when victorious in 2015 whilst Red Rum won with 12 stone in 1974.

"I am training him for the race (Grand National) and I will be keen to run him," said Elliott.

"Obviously Michael (O'Leary) owns him and pays the bills so he will make the final decision.

"It will be disappointing for everyone if he doesn’t turn up but as you know he makes the decisions."

Elliott plans to run him in a hurdle race on Sunday in Ireland before heading to his traditional prep race for the National the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

"He is four pounds higher than what he won off before (2019) but it is probably fair enough," said Elliott.

"I sort of expected that really.

"From the bottom of my heart it is hard to see him having much less (weight) with him being such a specialist and hopefully he can do us proud."

He is 16/1 joint-favourite with Kimberlite Candy and Jonjo O'Neill-trained Cloth Cap.

The latter is owned by Trevor Hemmings, the joint most successful owner in the history of the Grand National with three victories -– Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

Cloth Cap would be an apt winner as it is Hemmings' trademark headwear.

"Catherine who looks after my business came up with the name Cloth Cap," said Hemmings.

"Everybody knows me in this cloth cap although I have had to change it as my last one had a hole in it!"

The 85-year-old self-made businessman says Cloth Cap has the best chance of his three entries in a race he treasures above all others.

"The Grand National is the ultimate in my life as far I am concerned," said Hemmings.

"I built a holiday village next to where Ginger McCain used to bring Red Rum, the beach at Ainsdale.

"The Grand National is the Wembley of all of racing. That’s why I cherish Liverpool."