The decision by the handicapper to compress Tiger Roll’s handicap mark by just 1lb was met by disappointment from connections and as such, it has been suggested that the ten-year-old is now a 50/50 chance to take part in the world’s most famous steeplechase on April 4th.
Given that there were many rumblings in the O’Leary camp prior to the announcement of the weights, this should be seen as a positive. Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary had said that he had a ‘figure’ in his head and that is that figure is met, he will run and if it isn’t met, he won’t. Whatever figure O’Leary had in mind, it almost certainly wasn’t “1” and as such, we can assume that Tiger Roll is going to be a contender on the day.
O’Leary said: “[The weight] is a massive factor,” O’Leary said. “We’ve said the whole way through this horse is on a very unfair rating. He was raised 12lb last year for winning a cross-country race [at the Cheltenham Festival].
“The last time this horse ran in a [standard] chase was two-and-a-half years ago and he pulled up off 150. He’s obviously improved for the Grand National discipline and cross-country, but to rate this horse as a winner of a Gold Cup is ridiculous. Native River, a Gold Cup winner, hacked up last Saturday. He’s been compressed 2lb and we have to give him 4lb. I see something very unfair there.
“The decision is now in our hands whether we run or not. Tiger is invaluable to us and we have to look after him. Hopefully he comes through the Navan test [in Sunday’s Boyne Hurdle] and then goes on to Cheltenham and hopefully shows us more there. Then we’ll decide, but at the moment, it’s 50-50. The Betway Bowl [the day before the National] is definitely coming into calculations now.”
Connections of Tiger Roll may be slightly put-out but they certainly haven’t decided to pull the two-time winner out of contention. O’Leary’s statement is a reminder that there are still a few obstacles to overcome before Tiger Roll can bid to make history on April 4th.