Tiger Roll, the Grand National winner in 2018 and 2019, already has strong claims to be the most versatile National Hunt horse in training as well as the most popular, and he will attempt to break new ground once again on Thursday by recording his first win on the Flat at the age of 10.
“It’ll be a racecourse gallop and he’ll come on plenty for the run, but it’s a nice starting point for the season,” his trainer, Gordon Elliott said on Tuesday. “We don’t think he’s going to be winning it, we just want him to have a nice day out and enjoy himself.
“He’s done well [over the summer], it’s only October though and it’s a long way to next March. There’s a fair chance he’ll go to Cheltenham in November for the cross-country race [on 13 November] but we’ll play it by ear, one race at a time.”
Elliott’s gelding is one of 10 declared runners for the Flower Hill Maiden Stakes over 14 furlongs at Navan, which will be his first run on the Flat since finishing second in a maiden on the all-weather surface at Dundalk in March 2016.
At the time, Tiger Roll appeared to be on the downslope of his career, having managed a single victory in eight starts over jumps after winning the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2014.
Tiger Roll’s sole outing on the level to date had little immediate effect on his form over jumps, as he finished 14th in a handicap hurdle at Aintree’s National meeting and was then pulled up in a similar race at Punchestown. His next start, though, was in a beginners’ chase at Ballinrobe in May 2016 and since then he has, for the most part, been on an upward curve.
Sam Ewing, an apprentice rider, will take 7lb off Tiger Roll’s back, leaving him with 9st 7lb to carry – a featherweight compared to the 11st 5lb he lugged around more than four miles at Aintree in 2019 to win his second Grand National by nearly three lengths.
Tiger Roll, a son of the Derby winner Authorized, was bought for 70,000 guineas as a foal to join Sheikh Mohammed’s Flat racing operation but was sold to the jumps trainer Nigel Hawke for 10,000 guineas three years later without running on the Flat. He was then sold to join Elliott’s stable after one run for Hawke for £80,000.
Tiger Roll’s opponents on Thursday include runners from the elite Flat stables of Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld. Ciel D’Afrique, by the Derby and Arc winner Sea The Stars, runs for Weld while Greek Gladiator, by Galileo out of a Danehill mare, lines up for O’Brien.
Wednesday’s best bets
Soft ground will make it a test for the two-year-olds at Newmarket, where six of the seven races are for juveniles and there is, as always at this meeting, a scattering of runners who are bred to excel at three making a low-key start to their racing careers.
Runners to keep a close eye on include Dubawi Sands (1.35), a half-brother by Dubawi to Galileo Gold, who took the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes in 2016, and Royal Touch (3.55), a half-brother to Farhh, who was an extra behind Frankel in his four-year-old campaign in 2012 but took two Group Ones at five, including the Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Among the horses that bring some form to the table, Genuflex (2.45) has to be an each-way bet against Act Of Wisdom, the top-weight and possible favourite, in the 10-furlong nursery, having finished a length and a quarter behind Charlie Appleby’s colt on heavy ground at Nottingham last time. Unlike most of their rivals, they are both proven at this trip, and Genuflex is 2lb better off with Act Of Wisdom but available to back at 16-1.
Zezenia (3.20) should return to her earlier upward trajectory in the fillies’ handicap having been heavily eased at Nottingham last time when her saddle slipped, while at Fontwell, Waikiki Waves will catch the eye of some punters given that he is running in the “Waikiki Waves Won This Race 2019 Handicap Chase”.
The race has also attracted Never Learn (3.45), who was a very easy winner of the same race 12 months earlier and is only 7lb higher in the weights. Areehaa (7.15) and Gherkin (8.15) look best on the evening card at Kempton.