Tiger Roll was once the property of Sheikh Mohammed and, while he never raced for that esteemed owner, it was in a slightly different set of maroon and white silks – those of Gigginstown House Stud owner, Michael O’Leary – that he made his name. Having made a winning debut for Devon trainer Nigel Hawke in juvenile hurdle at Market Rasen in November, 2013, Tiger Roll was bought by O’Leary and sent to Co. Meath trainer Gordon Elliott, with a view to winning the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Two starts later, he won the Grade One Triumph Hurdle, under Davy Russell – with whom he would be famously reunited later in his career – and, despite struggling to make much impression in conditions hurdle races thereafter, also won the National Hunt Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.
Notwithstanding those two, high-profile victories, Tiger Roll has become a household name by winning the Grand National two years running in 2018 and 2019 – making him the first horse to do so since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 – both times under Davy Russell. Even before his second Aintree victory, though, Tiger Roll had become a Cheltenham Festival phenomenon, winning the Glenfarclas Country Chase – to take his Festival tally to four races in two different disciplines, over three different distances, in the space of six seasons – in 2018 and 2019.
Once described as a ‘little rat of a thing’ by his owner, Tiger Roll has now won five of his last six starts, including a surprise win, at 25/1 win, over hurdles at Navan in February, 2019 and, while still only a nine-year-old, is unlikely to attempt a Grand National hat-trick. Tiger Roll is 8/1 favourite to win the Aintree marathon for the third year running, but Michael O’Leary has said that he is ‘duty-bound to mind’ his charge and is more inclined to make the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase his main target for the 2019/20 season, followed by an honourable retirement.