Tiger Roll’s historic Grand National triumph was one of the greatest performances ever seen over Aintree’s famous fences.
That is the view of handicapper Martin Greenwood, the man who framed the weights for the £1 million race, after Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum 45 years ago to land back-to-back Nationals.
As owner Michael O’Leary insisted it was unlikely Tiger Roll would go for a hat-trick next year, Greenwood said: ‘Tiger Roll produced an incredible performance. I don’t think I can remember a horse tanking around like he did in the Grand National. He was still on the bridle after the last fence.
Tiger Roll enjoys a well-earned break after conquering Aintree for a second consecutive year
Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum 45 years ago to win back-to-back Nationals
‘The run was certainly up to the standard of being placed, if not even better, in a Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is just a machine.
‘This year he has produced a personal best over hurdles, stormed home in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival while in the Grand National the winning distance of two and three-quarter lengths does not remotely do justice to his superiority in my eyes.’
The quality of the performance by Davy Russell-ridden Tiger Roll was backed up by the horses that chased him home.
The 66-1 shot Magic Of Light ran a personal best to claim second, but in third was Willie Mullins-trained Rathvinden and fifth Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly.
Together with Tiger Roll, the 4-1 favourite, they looked the best handicapped horses in the line-up as both had produced performances subsequent to the Grand National weights being announced in February that would have seen the handicapper give them 8lb extra to carry if the weights could have been framed again.
Greenwood added: ‘Physically Tiger Roll is not a big horse but he is producing monster performances.’
Jockey Davy Russell celebrates following Tiger Roll’s historic triumph on Saturday at Aintree
Trainer Gordon Elliott (left) and owner Michael O’Leary (right) celebrate their win on Sunday
After a night of celebrating his third Grand National win, a hoarse-voiced trainer Gordon Elliott on Sunday said he was unable to explain why, at nine-years-old, Tiger Roll was turning in career-best efforts.
Ahead of the traditional homecoming near his County Meath base, Elliott said: ‘You were just hoping he could run like that. I honestly don’t know why he seems to have improved. If I told you I did I would be telling you a lie but he is a great horse.
‘The stats were against him and I thought it was impossible to win but hopefully he will now get the recognition he deserves and go down as one of the greats.’
Judging by the reaction of the 70,000 Aintree crowd, that will be assured for Tiger Roll. It is not just the level of performance but the races you win and the stages a horse graces which impact on how his performances are remembered.
Red Rum, who is buried close to the Aintree winning post, proves that. Over 20 years since he died, Rummy, the only three-time Grand National winner, who also finished second in the race twice, is still one of the first names produced if you ask a member of the public to name a racehorse.
Tiger Roll powers on to victory during the Grand National in Liverpool over the weekend
The fact that almost 10 million watched the Grand National on ITV — a 12 per cent rise on last year — means the name of Tiger Roll was echoing around living rooms all over the country
O’Leary remains adamant that if he is to make that four wins, which would be a record, it will have to be with another horse. He said that the plan next season would be to try to win a third consecutive Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival which would be his fifth win at that meeting.
Speaking on Racing TV, O’Leary said: ‘It’s very unlikely that he’ll come back and run in it again next year.
‘He will be carrying top weight, he is a small horse and every time he runs now I get nervous. I’d hate for anything unfortunate to happen to him while he’s racing.
‘For his sake and for the sake of the race, I really wouldn’t want to bring him back shouldering huge lumps of weight. There’s no reason to emulate Red Rum’s feat of three wins.
‘Red Rum saved the Grand National and put it back on the map at a time when the race was struggling. Tiger Roll isn’t Red Rum — he’s Tiger Roll — and I feel no pressure to go back and try to win a third time. There’s huge public affection for him and I think we’re duty-bound to mind him now.’
Owners are of course entitled to change their minds, although O’Leary stuck to his guns and retired his 2015 Grand National winner Rule The World after his success. In case he does, bookmakers quote Tiger Roll at 8-1 for the 2020 Grand National. Goodness knows what price he would be if he lined up.