Tiger Roll on course for repeat Randox Health Grand National bid as Elliott targets the world’s most famous and richest chase with multiple entries

Trainer Gordon Elliott opened the doors to his stables in Cullentra, County Meath, Ireland, to members of the media in a stable visit organised by Aintree Racecourse this morning, Wednesday, December 5.
On show was eight-year-old Tiger Roll, who captured the thrilling 2018 running of the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree in April by a head under Davy Russell in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud.
The son of Authorized is also a three-time winner at The Festival™ presented by Magners, having captured the 2018 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (3m 6f), the 2017 G2 National Hunt Chase (4m) and the 2014 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle (2m).
Tiger Roll made an encouraging return to action when a staying-on fourth in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase over three miles and six furlongs at Cheltenham on November 16.
He is set to return to Cheltenham for the £35,000 Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase over the same course and distance on Friday, December 14.
A tilt at the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners in March is his main aim before a repeat bid in the Randox Health Grand National on Saturday, April 6.
Tiger Roll will bid to become the first horse since Red Rum (1973 & 1974) to win a second running of the world’s most famous and richest chase over four and a quarter miles.
Tiger Roll, Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott this morning
Elliott commented: “Tiger Roll is in good form. We are very lucky to have him and it was a great performance last year in the Randox Health Grand National.
“The main plan with him is to target the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He will run at Cheltenham next week at The International in the Cross Country Chase and I’ve been pleased with him since his latest run at the track.
“The Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival is going to be his Gold Cup really. We will then head to the Randox Health Grand National after that.
“I was pleased with his comeback run. He gave lots of weight to some very good horses, Keith Donoghue was happy with him and I probably minded him a bit more this year, as I thought I had him fitter than I actually did. It was a very good run and he took a couple of blows after the race.
“Having won three races at the Cheltenham Festival and winning a Grand National, I probably went a bit soft on him in terms of the amount of work we did, so we will make sure we give him lots of work.
“Tiger Roll is a special horse. He is not the biggest horse we have in the yard and he might not be that great to look at, but he wears his heart on his sleeve every day of the week.
“If I am going to be perfectly honest, it is going to be very tough for him to come back and win the race as he will probably have close to top-weight and that will be difficult for him.
“He will run and have an each-way chance, but I do think it’s going to be tough with all the weight he will have.
“You always hope that these horses take to the fences, but you never really know if they will until they’ve jumped three or four of them.
“Keith Donoghue will ride Tiger Roll in the Cross Country races and Davy then might ride him in the Grand National.”
More immediately, Elliott could be double-handed in Saturday’s £150,000 G3 Becher Chase at Aintree over the Grand National fences over an extended three miles and one furlong, courtesy of nine-year-olds Don Poli and Noble Endeavour.
Don Poli, owned like Tiger Roll by Gigginstown House Stud, has been off the track since finishing third to Sizing John in the 2017 Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, but Elliott is looking forward to running the 2015 RSA Chase winner on Saturday.
Don Poli (left) works alongside Tiger Roll
Elliott revealed: “Don Poli is very well. I’ve been wanting to get a run into him for a while and I think he might just need the run at Aintree on Saturday.
“We are looking forward to seeing him run and how he takes to the fences. Don Poli has been schooling very well.
“He sustained some heat in his leg in the Gold Cup two years ago and that has kept him off the track since. We are really happy with him, but he will probably come on for the run.”
Noble Endeavour won the Paddy Power at Leopardstown in December, 2016, but has been limited to two runs since, his latest start being a sixth-placed finish in the 2017 Irish Grand National.
“Noble Endeavour is a very talented horse and he is also set to run in the Becher Chase on Saturday”, said Elliott.
“The handicap rating [154] he has might make life slightly difficult as he is caught in between slightly, but the Grand National is a target. He has had a couple of niggly problems, but we are pleased with him.”
Discussing some of his other possible Randox Health Grand National contenders, Elliott continued: “There are a few horses who could end up heading to Aintree for the Grand National.
Bless The Wings was third in the race last year, Monbeg Notorious might be a Grand National horse this year, Don PoliMala BeachWoodswellTiger Roll, Noble Endeavour, Outlander, Ucello ContiFolsom Blue, General Principle and a horse called Borice will all be entered for the race.
“Borice has come from France and is owned by Simon Munir & Isaac Souede – he could be a dark horse for the race. He will need to go up in the weights but he is set to run in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and that looks a good place to start.
“Borice ran in some good races in France and hit the crossbar in a few of them – I think he could be a Grand National horse as he has experience and this change of scenery might suit him.
“Ucello Conti is going hunter chasing and maybe point-to-pointing for the time being with a view to potentially coming back for the Grand National. He travelled well in the race last year and has been unlucky a couple of times in the Grand National when falling.
“General Principle is a very nice horse and he won the Irish Grand National last term. We’re looking forward to running him this year and he could maybe develop into a Grand National horse.”
“Outlander is another horse who could potentially run in the race this year.
“The Grand National is a very special race. When we won it in 2007 with Silver Birch, we perhaps didn’t appreciate it as much as we should have.
“Everyone knows about the Grand National. You want to win the race and we’ve been lucky enough to win it twice – it was special to win it again last year.
“We will probably have 10 or 15 entries and then we maybe four or five runners in the race overall. I’ve picked a couple of horses out for the race and hopefully they get there in one piece. We usually build a Grand National fence in preparation for the race.”
Don Poli (left), Tiger Roll (centre) and Bless The Wings (right)
Reflecting on his own career, Elliott remarked: “I enjoy what I do. I’m very lucky to be able to train good horses and we’re enjoying a fantastic time of things at the moment and it’s been great.
“You dream about being successful and I’m very lucky to have had success. Now we can constantly look to the future and see if we can improve things, whereas when I started, it was about trying to get by every day.
“I’ve been in a lot of different yards all over the world and if I see something I like in terms of facilities, training methods whatever, I try and implement here – we’re always doing something new.
“You’re always learning in this job. You still make mistakes every day of the week and it is all about learning. None of us are perfect and you just try to keep on improving.
“I’m very lucky in terms of all the horses and staff I have.”
Don Poli (right), Tiger Roll and Noble Endeavour (far right)
Gordon Elliott specials with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival:
3/1 Tiger Roll to win the 2019 Genfarclas Cross Country Chase at The Festival
20/1 Tiger Roll to win the 2019 Randox Health Grand National
50/1 Tiger Roll to win both the 2019 Genfarclas Cross Country Chase and the 2019 Randox Health Grand National
6/1 Gordon Elliott to train the winner of the 2019 Randox Health Grand National
Randox Health Grand National Betting:
20/1 Tiger Roll; 25/1 Bellshill, Elegant Escape, General Principle, One For Arthur, Pleasant Company, Vintage Clouds; 33/1 Bar
Betway’s Alan Alger said: “It looks as though all roads lead to Aintree for Grand National hero Tiger Roll, while Gordon Elliott also has his sights firmly set on a repeat win in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
“Tiger Roll looks likely to shoulder top-weight in the National and is a narrow favourite at 20/1, though he’s just 3/1 to win back-to-back Cross Country Chases after the trainer confirmed on Wednesday that would be a main target for the season. Anyone who thinks he can repeat his heroics of last season can take 50/1 on the big-race double.”
Don Poli (left) and Tiger Roll (centre)

 
Tiger Roll (IRE) Factfile -
The 2018 Randox Health Grand National winner
 
Breeding: 8 b g Authorized – Swiss Roll (Entrepreneur)
Breeder: Gerry O’Brien
Born: March 14, 2010
Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
Trainer: Gordon Elliott IRE
Jockey: Davy Russell
Jump Form: 121/71P6430/40/P114U2221331P/2P511-4
*Won the £1-million 2018 Randox Health Grand National, holding on by a head from the fast-finishing Willie Mullins-trained Pleasant Company in a thrilling finish on his first attempt over the Grand National fences on Saturday, April 14. Carrying 10st 13lb, the horse started as the 10/1 joint second favourite of the 38 runners in the world’s most famous chase.
*Jockey Davy Russell gained his first Randox Health Grand National victory at the age of 38.
*Ryanair supremo Michael O’Leary, who owns Gigginstown House Stud, celebrated his second Randox Health Grand National winner in three runnings, having succeeded first with Rule The World in 2016.
*It was also a second Randox Health Grand National victory for Gordon Elliott, who sent out Silver Birch (2007) very early in his training career to glory at Aintree.
*Tiger Roll reappeared this season (2018/19) in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on November 16, when finishing an encouraging fourth to Josies Orders.
*Rare three-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, most recently in the 2018 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (3m 6f).
*Gained other Cheltenham Festival victories in the 2017 G2 National Hunt Chase (4m) and the 2014 G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle (2m).
*Other major victories include the 2016 Munster National Handicap Chase (3m) by seven lengths at Limerick.
*Bought from Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation by trainer Nigel Hawke as an unraced three-year-old and then scored on his hurdling debut at Market Rasen in September, 2013, after which he was purchased for £80,000 by Gigginstown House Stud.
*Half-brother to G2 Lonsdale Cup winner Ahzeemah.
*Famously described by owner Michael O’Leary as “a little rat of a thing”.
Jump race record: Starts: 31; Wins: 9; 2nd: 5; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £801,591
Gigginstown House Stud
Gigginstown House Stud, covering 1,000 acres at Delvin near Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland is the residence of Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, Europe’s largest budget airline. O’Leary was born on March 20, 1961, the second of six children, and educated at Clongowes Wood College in County Kildare before reading business studies at Trinity College Dublin. He was a tax consultant at accountants KPMG (1984-86) and became financial adviser to Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair. He progressed to be Ryanair’s deputy chief executive in 1991 and chief operating officer in 1993. He has overseen the rapid development of Ryanair since 1994 when he became chief executive, and his worth was valued at £908 million in the 2018 Sunday Times Rich List, thanks mainly to his significant shareholding in Ryanair. He has often been a controversial figure in business, thanks to outspoken opinions and a penchant for generating publicity. O’Leary started off with horses in training on the Flat with David Wachman and Mick Halford, but he has rapidly become a major Jump owner with a string only rivalled by fellow Irishman J P McManus. Gigginstown used to have many of its horses with Ireland’s top Jump trainer, Willie Mullins, but took all 60 away in September, 2016 after a row over training fees. His team of well over 200 horses in training in Ireland are split between mainly Gordon Elliott, Henry de Bromhead, Noel Meade, Joseph O’Brien and Mouse Morris. His racing enthusiasm was increased when one of his first horses, War Of Attrition, won the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup. His 26 Cheltenham Festival winners, boosted by seven at the four-day meeting in 2018 (six trained by Elliott and one by de Bromhead), also include the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack. O’Leary won the Randox Health Grand National for the first time in 2016 with Rule The World, trained by Morris and previously without a win over fences. Tiger Roll handed him a second success in the Aintree spectacular in 2018. O’Leary’s brother Eddie, based at Lynn Lodge Stud in Mullingar, oversees the Gigginstown racing operation; the young horses are brought along at Pat Doyle’s County Tipperary stables and in point-to-points. Gigginstown has had retained jockeys, notably Davy Russell and Bryan Cooper, but neither lasted in the job. However, Russell has returned to ride plenty of Gigginstown horses, including two winners at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Gigginstown has owned three of the last four winners of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse – Thunder And Roses (2015), Rogue Angel (2016) and General Principle (2018). O’Leary married former banker Anita (Farrell) in 2003 and they have four children. Accolades: Gigginsgown House Stud has been champion Jump owner in Ireland six times (2009/10, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016,17 & 2017/18) and was also crowned champion owner in Britain in the 2015/16 campaign, when its seven winners included the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Don Cossack) and Randox Health Grand National (Rule The World).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2009 Hear The Echo (Fell 30th); 2012 Tharawaat (8th); 2014 Quito De La Roque (PU 21st); 2015 First Lieutenant (16th); 2016 RULE THE WORLD (WON), First Lieutenant (Fell 2nd), Sir Des Champs (Fell 15th); 2017 Roi Des Francs (18th), Rouge Angel (PU 30th), Wounded Warrior (PU 28th); 2018 TIGER ROLL (WON), Road to Riches (6th), Valseur Lido (8th), Alpha Des Obeaux (Fell 15th), Thunder And Roses (PU 26th),
 
Gordon Elliott IRE (Longwood, County Meath)
Born: March 2, 1978, in Summerhill, Co Meath Background: A very successful point-to-point rider, Elliott also partnered 46 winners as an amateur under Rules (up to 2005), headed by King’s Road, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, in the 1998 Punchestown Champion Bumper. He started his racing career while still at school, working at Tony Martin’s stable in County Meath. He moved to Britain, joining record-breaking handler Martin Pipe in 1997, and learnt a lot during his spell in Somerset. After commencing handling point-to-pointers, he started his main training career from Capranny Stables in Trim, Co Meath in early 2006 and bought the 78-acre Cullentra House Farm, Longwood, Co Meath, in 2011, where the facilities have been built up from scratch, with a capacity of over 200 horses, two gallops, three schooling grounds, an equine pool, a natural spa and more. The trainer has emerged over the last few seasons as the main challenger to Willie Mullins’ dominance in Ireland and had a major boost when receiving the pick of 60 horses that Gigginstown House Stud removed from Mullins in September, 2016. Elliott is part of a select group of trainers to saddle a winner at both the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot, having sent out Commissioned to land the Queen Alexandra Stakes at the prestigious Flat meeting in June, 2016. He also had other big Flat winners such as Dirar to win the Ebor Handicap at York in 2010 and two-year-old Beckford in the 2017 G2 Railway Stakes at the Curragh. Training Career: Elliott’s first runner under Rules came at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival, when Brandon Mountain was pulled up in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. He continued to send runners over to the UK and enjoyed almost instant success, most notably with Arresting, who notched up four victories between May and July, 2006. Elliott’s Grand National victory with Silver Birch in April, 2007 was remarkable not only because he was just 29 at the time, but also because he had yet to saddle a winner in his native country. The winners in Ireland soon followed and Elliott gained an initial G1 victory with Jessies Dream in the Drinmore Novice Chase in December, 2010, and celebrated his first Cheltenham Festival successes in 2011 with Chicago Grey in the National Hunt Chase and Carlito Brigante in the Coral Cup. His Cheltenham Festival haul now stands at 22 and includes Don Cossack’s victory in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the first time in March, 2017 with six successes, the same number as Willie Mullins but with one more runner-up. Elliott plundered his second leading trainer award at the 2018 Festival following a remarkable record-equalling eight winners over the four days, emulating Mullins’ best – set in 2015. He has yet to be champion trainer in Ireland, finishing runner-up to Willie Mullins for the past six seasons, but has gone very close.
First winner as a trainer - Arresting, Fugro-Technip Handicap Hurdle, Perth, June 11, 2006.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2007 SILVER BIRCH (WON); 2009 Silver Birch (FELL 22nd); 2010 Backstage (UR 20th); 2011 Backstage (10th); 2012 Tharawaat (8th), Chicago Grey (BD 5th); 2013 Tarquinius 8th, Chicago Grey (PU 30th); 2015 Cause Of Causes (8th); 2016 Ucello Conti (6th) 2017 Cause Of Causes (2nd), Roi Des Francs (18th), Ucello Conti (UR 22nd); 2018 TIGER ROLL (WON), Bless The Wings (3rd), Ucello Conti (UR 27th)
Davy Russell
Born:  June 27, 1979 Background: Hails from Youghal in County Cork and progressed from pony racing to become one of Ireland’s leading point-to-point riders, winning the championship outright in 2001 and sharing the title with J T McNamara in 2002. His first Aintree success came in 2000 when he rode, as an amateur, the Pat Fahy-trained Quadco to win the Champion National Hunt Flat Race at 33/1. The retirement of another one-time Irish point-to-point star, Adrian Maguire, saw him travel over to Britain as stable jockey to Yorkshire-based Ferdy Murphy and he turned professional on November 12, 2002, with his first success in that sphere coming on Inn Antique at Sedgefield on November 12. He enjoyed his first big success when Truckers Tavern won the 2003 Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock and the same horse went on to be second to Best Mate in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Russell lost his job as number one jockey to Murphy in January, 2004, after 14 months as he also wanted to continue riding in Ireland at weekends. He took the Topham Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences on 50/1 outsider Cregg House in 2005. He had his first Cheltenham Festival success in 2006 when Native Jack won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase. Russell has won the Irish jockeys’ championship on three occasions (2011/12, 2012/13 and 2017/18). He was retained jockey to Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, whose horses run in the maroon and white silks of Gigginstown House Stud, from 2007 until January 1, 2014, although he still rides regularly for the outfit as freelance. He has a great record at the Cheltenham Festival where his 22 winners include victory on Lord Windermere in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup – he partnered four winners over the four days in 2018 and was the leading rider at the meeting. He currently rides Ireland and Britain on a regular basis. As the age of 38, he was the oldest jockey participating in the 2018 Randox Health Grand National when successful on Tiger Roll.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2003 Ballinclay King (PU bef 15th); 2004 Takagi (UR 15th); 2005 Arctic Copper (19th); 2006 Joes Edge (7th); 2007 Livingstone Bramble (UR 6th); 2008 Chelsea Harbour (9th); 2009 Hear The Echo (FELL 30th); 2010 Cerium (11th); 2011 Becauseicouldntsee (FELL 2nd); 2012 Alfa Beat (Fell 7th); 2014 Lion Na Bearnai (PU 27th); 2016 Morning Assembly (8th); 2017 Saint Are (3rd): 2018 TIGER ROLL (WON).
 
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