Every year fans of the Grand National have the same conversation. Can last year’s winner come back and win it for a second year in a row. That is, despite it being one of the most difficult sporting achievements. In fact, it is so difficult that the last horse to do it was Red Rum back in 1973 and 1974.
But this year, there really is a definite feeling that Tiger Roll could win the 2019 Grand National. And there are plenty of reasons why.
Firstly, he was only eight years old when he won it in 2018. Generally winners are between nine and eleven years old as age and experience are imperative to have a good Grand National. That’s also why no seven year old has won the event since Bogskar in 1940! So Tiger Roll is currently in his prime in terms of national hunt racing.
A major factor in a horse’s ability to win the Grand National is the amount of weight that the BHA Handicapper allocates to it. A handicapped race means that all of the runners are given different weights based on their ability. The theory is that they should all then have a relatively equal chance of winning the race.
Ordinarily, the past winner of the race ends up carrying far more weight the following year. That maximum weight for any horse in the Grand National is 11-10. It is statistically very difficult to win off that weight. So much so, that Red Rum was also the last horse to win running with the top weight.
For the 2019 Grand National however, the handicapper has been very fair to Tiger Roll and instead of the huge weight that was expected, he was actually only given him two pounds more to run off. That means, should all things remain the same, he will start with 11-01. For those unsure of what that means, it is most definitely a winnable weight.
Another consideration is the form of the winner the following season. Many peak with a National win and are subsequently retired like Rule The World who on in 2016. Others fail to regain the spark that bagged them the win in the first place.
Tiger Roll however, is a very different prospect. He is fresh off the back of another win, though it was over hurdles. It was shorter in distance but ultimately it was a race he was not expected to win. Following a similar path to last season, he now looks set to move on to the Cheltenham Festival and if he is successful there then all bets are off!
He is a stunning horse, and much loved at the yard of trainer Gordon Elliott. With plenty of fans urging him on, he could genuinely make history on April 6th 2019.