There may not be much of him, but in terms of achievements at the track Gigginstown House Stud’s Tiger Roll is becoming a giant amongst horses. Four years on from his win over two miles in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham, and with a further two Festival successes already in the bag, this compact son of Derby winner Authorized emerged triumphant on the biggest stage of all: the Grand National at Aintree.
Under a typically ice-cool ride from Davy Russell, the eight year old appeared tanking into the race three from home and swiftly took up the running. Coming to the elbow Russell gave him the orders to strike for home and he opened up a six-length advantage. It looked a question of “How Far?” at this stage. In the end the answer to that question was not very far at all. Dour stayer Pleasant Company, from the yard of Willie Mullins eating, into Tiger Rolls lead on the run in and a photo finish was called.
When the result was announced, it was Tiger Roll by a head, to the jubilant delight of trainer Gordon Elliott. A second National success for the trainer – who is rapidly becoming the biggest name in the sport – following his breakthrough win with Silver Birch in 2007. With Elliott’s Bless The Wings in third and Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly in fourth, this was a clean sweep of the places for the Irish.
A stunned Davy Russell was as close to being lost for words as he is ever likely to get, but still had the heart and class to dedicate the win to flat jockey Pat Smullen who is currently undergoing treatment for a tumour.
Klimt Paints A Winning Picture
Looking ahead to the first flat classics of the season, we have a new clear favourite for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the form of the Aidan O’Brien runner, Gustav Klimt. Impeccably bred being by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, this one served notice that he was a horse of significant ability when coming from a seemingly impossible position to win the Superlative Stakes at HQ last season.
His return to the track in Leopardstown’s 2000 Guineas Trial on Sunday was therefore much anticipated. He didn’t disappoint. Kept out the back by Ryan Moore, the colt was produced on the outside in the straight to run down Imaging for a 1 ¾ success. Going away at the finish the step up from this 7f trip to a mile seems sure to suit and he looks to have rock solid claims for Team Ballydoyle. Bet365 make him a 9/2 chance for the first classic of the season.
Vicente Victorious at Ayr Again?
It’s back to the jumping game for the pick of this coming weekends action though, as Ayr lays on another Grand National for our punting pleasure. Winner of the race in both 2016 and 2017, Paul Nicholl’s Vicente bids to become the first horse to win the Scottish Grand National three years in a row since Couvrefeu II way back in 1911-1913. The compilers think he has every chance of doing just that amongst the firms making him their 10/1 favourite for the race.