As the resident of the first stable in the yard, two time Randox Health Grand National winner Tiger Roll has not lacked for attention during a period of enforced box rest. He is the first horse people see in the yard and the only horse they ask about.
But, with two weeks gone and a week still to go, jump racing’s little legend vented his obvious frustration at his confinement when, after posing for photographs outside his box, he stuck in an athletic buck yesterday. He was returned to his stable promptly.
His trainer Gordon Elliott is confident the nine-year-old is still on course for his attempt to win a third Randox Health Grand National following the removal of a small chip of bone from his near-fore joint two weeks ago.
“The procedure went well, he’s on box rest until tomorrow week when he’ll walk for three weeks and then start steady cantering,” explained Elliott, who had just 10 horses and not saddled a winner in Ireland when he won his first National with Silver Birch but now has untold numbers or ‘double figures’ as he jokingly described it.
“He was fully fit when he did it and, while it’s not ideal, if would have been a lot worse had it happened in December or January.”
Elliott would like to start Ireland’s favourite horse off in the Boyne Hurdle, which he won last February, before taking in the cross-Country at Cheltenham on the road to Aintree and, while owner Michael O’Leary blows hot and cold about the race, as far as Elliott is concerned the National is the plan.
“He carried 11st 5lbs last year, we’re not stupid, we know he’ll be top weight in April but would have won with 5lbs more this year – probably,” he said. “It’s a Grand National, I know what can happen in a National. If we get him there the build-up will be second to none and if he sets out on the last circuit with a live chance there’d be some atmosphere.
“It was frightening what he did last year when we stuck the blinkers on him he was a different horse, the best he’s ever been. Everyone knows him, he’s a character, he loves everyone to pet him, he knows.”
The National is still over four months away but Elliott reckons he has 15 horses he would like to enter for this season’s race including Borice, the Galway Plate winner, who will be his first runner in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.
“I was talking him up as a National horse this time last year but we just didn’t get the rub of the green with him last season,” he explained. “He’s had a wind op which turned him inside out. He’s in good form. The one thing I wouldn’t know is about the ground if it was heavy.”
It is a big weekend for Elliott with Samcro, now an exciting novice chaser, among a host of stable stars out at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
“I just could never get him to scope clean last year,” explained the trainer. “We built a new stable for him with a woodchip turn-out area behind it so he’s getting plenty of fresh air. He was bought and bred to be a chaser.
“You never stop learning from your mistakes and last season we were probably wrong to try and make him into a Champion Hurdler but the ground was so quick anyway it was probably a blessing in disguise.”
Meanwhile, Kemboy, the favourite for the Magners Gold Cup, is free to race again after Horse Racing Ireland announced that it had accepted a new ownership registration for seven horses formerly owned under the ‘Supreme Horseracing Club’ banner.
Following allegations that shares in Supreme horses had been over-sold, HRI repeatedly requested paperwork from the syndicate’s bosses which would show who owned how much of each horse. But when it was not forthcoming the Irish racing authority put a stop to its account earlier this month which meant it could no longer enter or declare any of its horses.
However, it left the door ajar and the syndicate has been re-formed under a new syndicate comprising members who had come forward as shareholders in each of the seven horses which also include Cadmium and Aramon. The news came just in the nick of time for Kemboy to be entered in the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas which he won last year. Entries closed at lunchtime yesterday.