Much of the build up to Tuesday’s weights reveal had been dominated by comments from Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary, and the operation’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary, who had said the dual winner was not a certain runner unless his mark of 172 was reduced.
BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood, who has the ability to frame the weights as he sees fit, has dropped Tiger Roll 2 lb, meaning that if he is to become the first horse to win three successive Grand Nationals he must defy top weight – last achieved by Red Rum, the only other three-time winner – and a mark 11 lb higher than last year.
Reacting to the weights, Timeform’s Jumps Editor Dan Barber said: “All the talk on this day every year – and, indeed, for several weeks before in the form of the traditional Gigginstown v BHA sparring match – centres around hair-splitting of who has been let in lightly and who has been hard done by.
“In truth, it’s only after the weights have been announced that contenders really have the scope to push themselves towards the ‘thrown-in’ bracket, as subsequent improvement, however vast, cannot be factored in between the release of the weights and the race itself.
“This leads on smoothly to arguably the most salient point as regards Tiger Roll, the dual winner whose participation or otherwise has been the only story in town in the lead up to the reveal of the weights.
“Tiger Roll, and other Aintree naturals before him, force a departure from the usual Timeform conventions of ‘chance at the weights’. What Tiger Roll has shown is a rare effectiveness on the course that can’t be reflected in pounds, and the fact he widened his winning margin from his first success to his second – despite a mark some 9 lb higher – goes a long way to confirming that view.
“Yes, others will emerge between now and then, but it’s hard to picture any scenario that doesn’t see Tiger Roll sent off a worthy favourite – provided Eddie and Michael deign to ‘cross the road’ one more time.”
Timeform’s Chase Handicapper Phil Turner said: “Tiger Roll will face a much stiffer task at the weights this time around, but that goes with the territory of being an outstanding Grand National performer. Red Rum, for example, had to shoulder top weight of 12 stone when bidding for his third consecutive National win in 1975, when he had to carry 1 lb more than former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner The Dikler (who was placed in another three Gold Cups!) and 13 lb more than dual Champion Chase winner Royal Relief.
“Admittedly, the concession of 11 lb to two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner L’Escargot proved too much in the end for Red Rum, who had to settle for second in that 1975 renewal and filled the same spot again twelve months later. He successfully defied top weight for his record-breaking third win in 1977, though, when he’d been allotted 9 lb more than that season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Davy Lad.
“Native River is a much higher-quality Gold Cup winner than Davy Lad and has long appealed as the sort who’d relish the test at Aintree, so he looks the clear pick at the weights at present for the 2020 edition. Definitly Red and The Storyteller are other classy performers who look well handicapped on their best form and make appeal at even bigger odds. That said, Tiger Roll’s exceptional record over National and cross-country fences is hard to ignore and he remains a far more attractive betting proposition than most of the others currently above him in the ratings.”
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
185 NATIVE RIVER
183 DEFINITLY RED
LAKE VIEW LAD
182+ DEATH DUTY
182 ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS
RAMSES DE TEILLEE
WALK IN THE MILL
180+ ONE FOR ARTHUR
179 BURROWS SAINT
TOP VILLE BEN