• ‘Closed Doors’ should be a last resort for Grand National says Tiger Roll owner

    Gigginstown House Stud boss Eddie O’Leary said “We are battered but not out” after Tiger Roll suffered a surprise defeat on Day Two of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. On the back of just one competitive outings this season, the two-time Grand National winner finished a distant second in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase yesterday, the ten-year-old no match for 3/1 shot Easysland.

    O’Leary made it clear that all roads still lead to Aintree next month assuming of course that Tiger Roll is fine after his midweek exertions. Backed as if a defeat was virtually impossible, the 8/11 odds-on favourite was dismounted immediately at the finish of the race and taken straight to the stables instead of being unsaddled with the other runners.

    O’Leary said: “When he hit the heavy patch he just sank in it.

    “He’s OK and we are happy- and fair do’s to the winner, he won very, very well.

    “We hope to go back to the National if he’s OK in the morning, that’ll be the next plan.

    “He’s a hero to us all.

    “He has gone a long way there on ground he would hate. He jumped brilliantly and did everything right except win.”

    The 2020 Randox Health Grand National still has to get the go-ahead in the midst of the ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic, many other large scale sporting events being postponed or cancelled altogether.

    Nevertheless O’Leary appealed to the decision makers to consider the options very carefully for the world’s greatest horse race.

    “Hopefully things have to progress as it is a business,” he said.

    “You would delay a National, until when? You delay a Guineas and a Derby, like where do you stop?

    “Behind closed doors would be the preferred option, if it comes to that. Hopefully it won’t.

    “Life has to go on.”