Tiger Roll, the Grand National winner in 2018 and 2019, already has strong claims to be the most versatile National Hunt horse in training as well as the most popular, and he will attempt to break new ground once again on Thursday by recording his first win on the Flat at the age of 10.

Gordon Elliott’s gelding is one of 10 declared runners for the Flower Hill Maiden Stakes over 14 furlongs at Navan, which will be his first run on the Flat since finishing second in a maiden on the all-weather surface at Dundalk in March 2016.

At the time, Tiger Roll appeared to be on the downslope of his career, having managed only a single victory in eight starts over jumps after winning the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2014.

Tiger Roll’s sole outing on the level to date had little immediate effect on his form over jumps, as Tiger Roll finished 14th in a handicap hurdle at Aintree’s National meeting and was then pulled up in a similar race at Punchestown. His next start, though, was in a beginners’ chase at Ballinrobe in May 2016 and he has, for the most part, been on an upward curve ever since.

Sam Ewing, an apprentice rider, will take 7lb off Tiger Roll’s back, leaving him with 9st 7lb to carry – a featherweight compared to the 11st 5lb he lugged around more than four miles at Aintree in April 2019 to win his second Grand National by nearly three lengths.

Tiger Roll, a son of the Derby winner Authorized, was bought for 70,000gns as a foal to join Sheikh Mohammed’s Flat racing operation but was sold to jumps trainer Nigel Hawke for just 10,000gns three years later without running on the Flat. He was then sold to join Elliott’s stable after just one run for Hawke for £80,000.

Tiger Roll’s opponents on Thursday include runners from the elite Flat stables of Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld. Ciel D’Afrique, by the Derby and Arc winner Sea The Stars, runs for Weld while Greek Gladiator, by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, lines up for O’Brien.

The chaser will bid to win a record-breaking third Grand National in a row, following the abandonment of this year’s race owing to Covid-19 restrictions, next spring at Aintree.

source: theguardian.com


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