Tiger Roll had already enjoyed an illustrious career before landing a second Grand National in 2018/19, becoming a four-time Cheltenham Festival winner the preceding month when winning his second Cross Country Chase in succession. Tiger Roll had already won the 2014 Triumph Hurdle and the 2017 National Hunt Chase.
Tiger Roll finished fourth in a cross-country event on his reappearance in 2018/19, in what amounted to just a satisfactory return, but he was much sharper when springing a 25/1 surprise in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan on his next start, showing form comparable to that of his victory in the 2014 Triumph Hurdle.
There have been some memorable winning performances in the Cross Country in recent years, such as Balthazar King's gritty victories in 2012 and 2014, as well as Cause of Causes gaining his third Festival success in 2017. However, no winner in the race’s history to that point was as impressive as Tiger Roll, who sauntered clear of his rivals to post a 22-length success.
It is testament to Tiger Roll’s ability and durability that he was absolutely thriving ahead of returning to Aintree. Also, no bigger testament to Gordon Elliott’s powers as a trainer.
📅 March 13 @CheltenhamRaces— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 30, 2019
👑 "A Festival great" - Tiger Roll recorded a fourth success at the Cheltenham Festival with ease!
🏆 2014 - Triumph Hurdle
🏆 2017 - National Hunt Chase
🏆 2018 - Cross Country Chase
🏆 2019 - Cross Country Chase#RacingTVHighlightsOfTheYear pic.twitter.com/Iq03LvBCKm
The unfortunate incident that claimed the life of Up For Review at the very first fence thankfully didn't set the tone for a Grand National that otherwise was notable for its lack of incident as well as its obvious significance in a historical context, with Tiger Roll becoming the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1974.
Tiger Roll added the most significant layer yet to a career as unconventional as it has been stellar, a Darley cast-off who started with success in a Market Rasen juvenile hurdle in the same season he captured the Triumph Hurdle.
Moments of concern for the backers of Tiger Roll were at a minimum, pecks on landing at both the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth soon shrugged aside as he continued to travel powerfully in touch and moved ahead still on the bridle at the last, bursting clear as he had done 12 months earlier but with nothing rallying strongly enough to erode his advantage this time, the front trio ending up well clear in arguably the strongest piece of National form matched only by Many Clouds in modern times.
Almost half the field negotiated the course and the identity of the principals showcased the seemingly ever-rising quality these days, the first six home including the highest-placed mare since 1956 in the shape of Magic of Light, plus winners of the Becher Chase and Bobbyjo Chase and no less than the Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly.
🐅 April 6 @AintreeRaces - the Tiger made history & entered sporting folklore— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 31, 2019
🏆 2019 Grand National
🏆 2018 Grand National
Tiger Roll emulated Red Rum by winning successive renewals of the Aintree showpiece for @gelliott_racing & @_Davy_Russel_ #RacingTVHighlightsOfTheYear pic.twitter.com/yZgE7Fz7IF
Tiger Roll reportedly suffered a setback in the Autumn of 2019, but all roads were set to lead back to Aintree (via Cheltenham). Gordon Elliott again used the Boyne Hurdle on the path to the Grand National, but this time Tiger Roll didn’t have the luxury of a prep run and understandably tired in the closing stages.
The popular 10-year-old started as the 11/8-on favourite for his bid to win a hat-trick of Cross Country Chases at Cheltenham, but he was some way below his best again, still leaving the impression he would come on for the run as he finished a distant second.
Although that outing represented a blow to his Grand National claims, Tiger Roll was still considered a leading player before the race was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. We will have to wait another year to see if he can emulate Red Rum and win it for the third time.