Only one horse in history has won the Grand National on three separate occasions, and that was the incomparable Red Rum.
And no horse has even gotten close to winning the famous Aintree marathon in three consecutive years.
So the news that the brilliant Tiger Roll will go for a hat-trick of Grand National titles next April, has been met with much relish by punters.
The Gigginstown horse, who has absolutely dominated the National in each of his last two trips, will be ten years old by the time the showpiece comes around in 2020, and while there has been a trend in recent years for younger horses to thrive there is still plenty of examples of horses in double digits taking the spoils on Merseyside – Pineau de Re, Auroras Encore and Neptune Collinges were all eleven when triumphing from 2012 through to ’14.
It was considered highly unlikely that Tiger Roll would be sent to Aintree for the £1 million extravaganza given his age and also the battle scars that come with launching dual National and Cheltenham Festival campaigns, where the Gordon Elliott trained powerhouse has also enjoyed notable successes.
But the Irishman has confirmed that his charge will once again target double glory at Aintree and Prestbury Park.
Tiger Roll has returned to light training, and so far the signs are that he has enjoyed the summer and is back in full fettle.
“It’s great to see him back, doing a bit of work again,” Elliott said. “He has had a nice couple of months of summer holidays. He will probably do three or four weeks of Flat work before he comes back to us in the main yard here.
“Obviously he won’t be that busy this year. We are going to have to mind him now and pick and choose where we go. He will probably have one run over hurdles, maybe something like the Boyne Hurdle again. He will go back to Cheltenham for the cross-country race and then we’ll go for the Grand National.”
The champion trainer also reflected on his horse’s effort in last year’s Grand National, where he thought his charge would ‘hose up’ until the final straight, when Magic of Light under the ride of Paddy Kennedy closed hard.
Nevertheless, Elliott’s confidence has not been shaken, and he is already setting his sights on the Aintree meeting – both the race itself and the inevitable hype in the lead-up.
“I think the build-up to the English National this season is going to be unbelievable. The hype – people are talking about him already. Whether he wins, loses or draws if he gets back there to have a go at three in a row it’s going to be great. The hype is going to be brilliant.”
When Tiger Roll did get over the line in first place in the 2019 Grand National, he created his own slice of history.
The ‘little rat of a thing’, as owner Michael O’Leary describes him, became the first back-to-back winner of the National since Red Rum, who triumphed in 1973-74 and followed by becoming the first ‘three-peat’ winner with victory in 1977.
The Story of 2018 and 2019 Grand National winner Tiger Roll… 🐯🙌 pic.twitter.com/1ynRu9qMzu
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) 8 April 2019
Those are the only consecutive champions of the modern era, and you have to go back to Reynoldstown in 1935-36 to find the previous double-winner.
Maybe 2020 will be the year when Tiger Roll creates his own imprint in the racing hall of fame….