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"Slim and none" Michael O'Leary rules out third Tiger Roll Grand National

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

09:40 13 Nov 2019

"Slim and none" was the assessment of Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's on the chances of Tiger Roll running in the Grand National at Aintree this season. 

Tiger Roll has won the last two runnings of the famous race and were he to do the same next April would become the first horse to ever do so.

As the owner of Tiger Roll, Michael O'Leary doesn't share the view of the British handicapper on the horse's ability.

“He is the fourth highest-rated staying chaser in England and Ireland, which we all know to be complete and utter horseshit."

The Ryanair boss conceded to the Racing Post that the dual Grand National winner is effective at the venue.

“Now, does he run around Aintree well? Yes, he does. Is he going to carry 11st 10lb in a Grand National, with Gold Cup seconds and thirds getting six or eight pounds off him? No, he is not."

Davy Russell has partnered Tiger Roll on both of his wins at Aintree. There has been speculation that there has been a falling out between Gigginstown and Russell as they have not used the rider often this term, despite an injury to regular rider Jack Kennedy.

Should the "slim to none" occurrence happen though, O'Leary confirmed it will be Russell in the plate.

“If Tiger Roll goes for the Grand National at Aintree, I would be mad to look at anyone else other than Davy to ride him,” said the Gigginstown House owner. “He rides Aintree like a master, but the chances of Tiger Roll going back to Aintree are slim and none."

Plans

The initial plans for Tiger Roll revolve around the Cheltenham festival as trainer Gordon Elliott suggested last week, O'Leary went further:

“He will go for the cross-country race at Cheltenham and I would say there is every chance if he won that he would be retired.

"That’s not certain, but this is one horse I am not going to ask to carry a huge weight around Aintree.

“And I am not trying to negotiate with the handicapper. He barely won it last year off nine pounds higher, and he is not going to improve again.”

Gordon Elliott often says "Michael pays the bills so he calls the shots" when asked about Gigginstown runners' future plans. O'Leary was happy to hammer home that point when asked about his trainer aiming Tiger Roll for the Grand National.

“I’ve no problem with Gordon aiming him at the race,” the Ryanair boss said. “But the decision will be taken out of his hands when they release the weights in February.

“I know it makes for a great story, that it would be wonderful if he won three Grand Nationals in a row, but wouldn’t it be terrible if he dropped dead lumping a huge weight around Aintree?

"I care more about looking after the horse and I am not killing him.

"I'm not soft and accept it happens, but I have a wife and children who are in love with this horse and I am not risking him to lump a humongous weight.”

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