The remarkable Tiger Roll (10/1), winner of the two-mile 2014 Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival as a four-year-old, landed the Randox Health Grand National in the most dramatic fashion at Aintree this afternoon, holding on by just a head from the gallant Pleasant Company (25/1).
Trained by Gordon Elliott, winning the race for the second time following Silver Birch’s success in 2007, owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud that also won the National two years ago with Rule The World, and given a tremendous ride by veteran Irish champion jockey Davy Russell, the diminutive eight-year-old jumped superbly throughout.
He looked as though he would run away to a wide margin success when surging past long-time leader Pleasant Company approaching the second last fence, but after going clear at the Elbow, Tiger Roll, winner of the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival four weeks ago, began to idle in front of the huge Aintree crowd and David Mullins conjured an extraordinary rally from Pleasant Company.
Closing hand over fist having been five lengths down with 200 yards to run, Pleasant Company forced a desperately close photo-finish, but after an anxious wait it was Tiger Roll who was announced the winner by just a head. Bless The Wings (40/1), also trained by Elliott, stayed on strongly to finish 11 lengths away in third, just getting the better of a photo-finish with the gallant top weight Anibale Fly (10/1), third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month, securing value place odds for followers of Betting.net having been recommended at 25/1 each-way three weeks ago.
Betting.net’s other recommendations were I Just Know, in the lead when falling at Becher’s Brook first time round, and Seeyouatmidnight, who was in second place three from home but faded as his stamina let him down, eventually finishing 11th, one place ahead of the final finisher, 12th placed Baie Des Iles, the mount of Katie Walsh.
“I was afraid he wouldn’t take to it as he’s very economical with his jumping,” Davy Russell told Oli Bell of ITV racing. “They’ve done a marvellous job with this horse. This one is for Pat Smullen [champion Irish jockey currently undergoing treatment for cancer]. I was speaking to him the other morning and he’s as tough as nails. I really don’t know what to say.”
“It’s unbelievable,” added a stunned Elliott. “I can’t believe it. Tiger Roll is the stable favourite. It’s brilliant for the yard and the owners Gigginstown.”
Milansbar (25/1) gave lady rider Bryony Frost a fantastic ride coming home in fifth, while Road To Riches (33/1) came through for sixth, so with many betting companies paying six places they will return valuable place odds.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.