Tiger Roll had the chance to make history on Saturday and become only the second horse after Red Rum to win the Grand National three times – so why is he running at Aintree on Thursday?
The decision not to run Tiger Roll in the Grand National itself was made by the horse's owner Michael O'Leary, who argued his two-time winner was given an unfair weight by the handicapper.
Remarkably, Tiger Roll, who won back-to-back editions in 2018 and 2019, was initially entered into the race, meaning a record-breaking tilt at a third National had been on the cards.
But Ryanair boss O'Leary withdrew his superstar horse at a recent declaration stage following a row with BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood.
Greenwood allotted Tiger Roll a weight of 11 stone and 9 pounds – one pound more than the weight Red Rum lugged to his victory during his third win in 1977.
O'Leary deemed the weight to be "unfair" and threatened to remove the heavy ante-post favourite from the race entirely.
The Irish businessman, not one to mince his words, stuck to his guns and withdrew Tiger Roll on March 2nd, citing a "duty of care to Tiger."
In a statement, he said: "We made clear that if Tiger Roll was rated in the 150s which is what his form and age now warrants, he would be allowed to run in this year’s National and go for a historic three in a row.
"However, the handicapper has decided to rate him on his reputation rather than his form – which we fully accept is his prerogative – but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so we will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden especially as he gets older and his form declines."
Tiger Roll subsequently went on to win a third renewal of the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham, leaving some to question whether O'Leary had jumped the gun by withdrawing his horse.
Perhaps O'Leary thought similar, because not long after his win at the Festival, the Irishman announced Tiger Roll would compete for the less prestigious Aintree Bowl on Thursday.
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Michael's brother Eddie O'Leary dismissed the 11-year-old's chances in the Bowl too, saying: "Tiger Roll is not a Grade 1 horse and I think he's completely up against it.
"I hope he jumps well and comes home safe but, to be honest, if he finished within 20 lengths of them we’d be thrilled.
"This isn’t even a good Grade 1, let’s make no bones about that. In fact, it’s a terrible Grade 1 if truth be told.
"But we wouldn’t expect Tiger Roll to live with these horses because he’s not as good as them. It’s as simple as that. He’s 4-1?
"There should be a zero after that because he has no chance whatsoever. He has a crazy rating."
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