#UK RACING: Tiger Roll’s tilt at Grand National history withdrawn over assigned weight

Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell on the way to winning the Grand National Handicap Chase at the Grand National Horse Racing Festival at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England, Saturday April 6, 2019. (Nigel French/PA via AP)
Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell on the way to winning the Grand National Handicap Chase at the Grand National Horse Racing Festival at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool, England, Saturday April 6, 2019. (Nigel French/PA via AP)

DUBLIN, Ireland (AFP) – Tiger Roll’s bid for an historic third successive victory in the Grand National is over after owner, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, withdrew him on Tuesday claiming he had been given “an unfair weight.”

Tiger Roll has run disappointingly in both his races this season and he was allocated a 11 stone 9 pounds (74 kilogrammes) weight for the race at Aintree on April 10.

His weight would have seen him carry a pound more than Red Rum did when the 1973/74 winner entered racing folklore with a third Aintree crown in 1977.

The 2018 and 2019 National winner — the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic — is trained by Gordon Elliott, who is barred for the moment from having runners in England.

The 43-year-old Irish trainer is under investigation after a photograph emerged of him sitting on a dead horse on the phone for which he has apologised.

O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud operation’s statement made no reference to that in explaining why they had withdrawn the 11-year-old.

“We fully respect the handicapper’s right to determine the Grand National weights as he so chooses,” read a statement from Gigginstown.

“But we respectfully believe that he is mistaken in allocating an unfair and unwarranted weight to Tiger Roll.

“In these circumstances, as we previously advised, Tiger Roll will not run.”

Despite withdrawing him from Aintree O’Leary still plans to run him at the Cheltenham Festival in a fortnight in the Cross Country race he has won on two occasions.

Aintree clerk of the course Sulekha Varma said she was disappointed Tiger Roll will miss out.

“It is a shame,” she said. “It would have been fantastic to see the horse go and attempt to win the race three times.

“I think we may never get the chance again in our lifetimes, but he’s been a fabulous horse.”

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