Published 9th Feburary
Where else can one start when talking about the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival other than the Gordon Elliott-trained TIGER ROLL and his bid to make it three wins in a row in this contest.
The 10-year-old has had one of the most remarkably varied careers of any horse in recent National Hunt history. He looked a high-class prospect over hurdles when winning the Triumph Hurdle on just his third career start in 2014, but he didn’t progress as hoped in the years after that and looked in danger of being a disappointment until his attentions were turned to chasing.
While he blew hot and cold in equal measure during his novice chase season, a victory in the Munster National at Limerick in October 2016 showed that he was more than capable of putting in a big performance when things fell right for him.
Given a winter break, he returned to the track for the National Hunt Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and he emerged the three-length victor under a fine ride from Lisa O’Neill.
Tiger Roll has been prepared throughout this season with just two races in mind, the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase and the Aintree Grand National
Having had surgery to correct a kissing spine issue prior to the start of the 2017/18 season, he was sent down the cross-country route which culminated in him overcoming the feared unsuitability of the soft ground to win the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. As if that wasn’t enough, he added to one of the most eclectic CVs in the game by going on to win the Grand National at Aintree just a month later.
Remarkably, Tiger Roll returned last season looking better than ever. A highly-impressive victory in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan set the tone, as he went on to bolt up in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival by 22 lengths which set him up for his bid to become the first horse since Red Rum to win the Aintree Grand National twice. Sent off as the 4/1 favourite, he looked better than ever in securing his place in racing immortality by running out the 2¾ lengths victory.
Now very much a cult hero, Tiger Roll has been prepared throughout this season with just two races in mind, the Glenfarclas Cross-Country Chase and the Aintree Grand National. That preparation was delayed after a chip had to be removed from one of his joints in November, but he is reportedly on target to return in the Boyne Hurdle.
Assuming all goes well in that race, he promises to be very tough to beat at Cheltenham regardless of the conditions. If he gets his favoured sound surface, he will take an awful lot of beating.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, Wenesday 11th March
2pts win TIGER ROLL (13-8 Betfred, Ladbrokes, 6-4 Coral, Unibet, 5-4 general)