Tiger Rolls into History

Tiger Roll became a Grand National legend on Saturday. As he became the first horse since Red Rum to win the race two years on the trot.

Like Red Rum, Tiger Roll is bred to be a flat horse, and he’s not exactly built to jump a fence either. But like “Rummy”, he’s just a freak of horse. Travelling powerfully through the race in mid-division. He stumbled four out, but soon recovered, and once again was cantering all over his rivals when taking it up between the final two fences.

The 9-year-old soon pulled clear, although the margin of victory was only 2 ¾ lengths. Like last year, the gelding seemed to idle out in front on the run-in, which allowed runners-up Magic Of Light and Rathvinden to get closer than seemed likely after jumping the last.

He deserves his place in the history books, thats for sure. However, it’s fair to say his achievement can’t be equated with Red Rum’s given the size of the fences has changed so much in recent years. Indeed, it’s highly likely if Tiger Roll had been facing the Aintree fences of the 1970s & 80s, I doubt he would have completed the race, let alone become a dual winner of the race.

The race produced one fatality as Up For Review was brought down by the well fancied Vintage Clouds at the first, and sustained a life ending injury. Fortunately, Vintage Clouds suffered no ill effects after his fall at the first.

Yes, the fences are a lot easier than they were. The purists will no doubt bemoan the fact that so many horses are still racing coming to the second circuit. However, too many high-class horses have lost their lives in the race. The National fences are now designed to save horses, and that’s what they do. In these changed times, it’s what jumps racing needs.

Pleasant Company, my selection for the race in last week’s blog, ran a cracker. He was still in contention for place when unseating his rider four out.

On the day, the race belonged to Tiger Roll, as the little horse with the big heart jumped into horse racing history.

I’m sure he will bid for a third win in 2020. He will no doubt carry top weight, which won’t be easy considering his size. Nonetheless, it will still take a well handicapped rival to beat him.

The Cap Fits for Sean

The 3m ½ f Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle produced the most exciting finish of the three days of the Grand National Festival. Coming to the last three horses, Apples Jade, Roksana and If The Cap Fits were in contention. The latter made a bad mistake at the last, which looked to have ended his winning chance. On the run-in Apples Jade looked like she would hold on but Cheltenham Festival winner Roksana overhauled her in the final few yards.  Only for the rallying If The Cap Fits to stick his head out and win the race when it mattered. There was just a head & neck between these three brave horses at the finish.

The race was a notable triumph for the jockey Sean Bowen, who was winning his first Grade 1 race of his short career. There will be plenty more for this fine young jockey, and his burgeoning partnership with trainer Harry Fry will help him in that regard.

The First Classic Trials

Whilst the eyes of the racing world were on Aintree. Over the Irish Sea at Leopardstown it was the first of this season’s Classic Trials.

Don’t Give Up On Madhmoon

The 2,000 Guineas Trial was won by the Aiden O’Brien trained Never No More, who beat odds on favourite Madhmoon by ½ length. If you fancy the runner-up for the English 2000 Guineas, you shouldn’t be too concerned with the three-year-old’s performance. He was trying to give a race-fit rival 3lb, and was dropping back to 7f, both last seasons’ two wins came at a mile. It was also the colt’s first go on soft ground.

So, in the circumstances, it seemed a bit of an overaction from the bookies to push him out to a best priced 25/1 for the first English Classic of the season. The extra furlong of the 2000 Guineas, a sounder surface, and with his seasonal reappearance under his belt, he looks solid each-way value at 20/1, or bigger, for Newmarket.

Iridessa Stakes 1000 Guineas Claim

The 1000 Guineas Trial was a triumph for the Shelia Lavery trained Lady Kaya. In terms of the first filly’s classic of the season, it may pay to take into account the third home in the race in Iridessa. Last year’s Newmarket Fillies Mile winner was making her seasonal reappearance over 7f.

Weak in the market, and racing on soft ground, she looked to have needed the run. This run should bring her on fitness wise, and she will of course be well suited by the extra furlong in the 1000 Guineas.

The daughter of Derby winner, Ruler Of The World, is a best priced 16/1 for the first fillies Classic and shouldn’t be underestimated, as she’s well suited by the C&D.

Stats Corner

Next weekend we have the first Guineas Trials over this side of the Irish Sea, with the latest renewals of the Fred Darling Stakes & the Greenham Stakes.

Fred Darling Stakes Trainer Records

Looking at the first race. One trainer whose runners are worth noting are:

Ralph Beckett – 3 winners from 5 runners + 20.5 4 placed 80% (+26.00)

The Greenham meeting has been a successful one for John Gosden. Since 2015 the Newmarket trainer has had 11 winners from 27 runners 41% +19 A/E 1.64 21 placed 78%

Good luck with this week’s punting.

Until next week.

John Burke

I have a MA in International Politics and having spent a number of years working in political campaigning but I eventually I realised that politics was not the world where I wanted to work I had been interested in horse racing since the late 1980s but in the early years I was merely just betting and watching racing like most people as a bit of fun and a hobby, then the hobby becomes a passion and that’s what happened to me with horse racing. I soon realised that to make money from my hobby I had to learn as much as I could about the sport and betting in general. The whole process took time but after a number of successful years of betting, I decided in 2011 to take the plunge, gave up my full time day job and decided to bet on horse racing as a part time business and I haven’t looked back since. I like to specialise in the better class of races and I love to solve the puzzles posed by big field handicaps the latter races often provide punters with great value betting opportunities. Whilst most of my time is spent reviewing previous races I like to keep things as simple as possible as even the biggest field handicaps can usually be pruned down to half a dozen strong contenders with the right sort of approach.


  1. Thank you for making it clear; Tiger Roll hasn’t “made history” as so many commentators were saying on Saturday. He has simply repeated Red Rum’s achievement. However, as you quite rightly state, it cannot really be compared because the fences are so much smaller and easier than in Red Rum’s day.

  2. Yes I wish ITV would superimpose todays fences onto some film of the fences of old, especially Bechers Brook and the Chair,then you would see how much tougher they were in Rummys day.But well done Tiger.

  3. Most serious punters require one tip, odds from 1/2 up to 4/1 in races having 5 to 8 runners and an average of 33% win rate.
    Then we can make money. This means no little (?) Side bets which rarely give positive returns.
    Have you anything to add/question?

  4. Interesting article, but have to disagree on one point in particular, the comment that “too many good horses have died in the race”.
    The Grand National is not meant to be a race for good horses!
    That’s the Gold Cup.
    The National was intended to give an opportunity to owners of poor horses to win a huge pot, that otherwise would not win a race
    Hence, it is such an extreme test.
    Would also disagree about the nature of the fences.
    Yes they are smaller, but it seems to me that they are much stiffer than the larger fences of yesteryear, which were designed to be knocked down as horses brush through the top spruce ( thus making them much smaller on the second circuit).
    Not so much with the current design, I think.
    Anyway, it was a great race, as always, a brilliant spectacle, and here’s hoping that Tiger does turn up next year.

  5. David,

    The price angle is a fair one. Indeed, you can argue that short priced horses in particular favourites are actually under-bet.

    It’s the old favourite/longshot bias in action. I will put up some stats in Monday’s Post.

  6. David,

    Re: Good horses in National

    I get your point although I think those days have no gone and the official handicapper has changed the race to encourage the ‘classy horses’ to run in the race.

    In regard to the ‘stiffness’ of the fences. I think they remain different to any other course that’s for sure. Although I would argue the runners were walking through the fences. Both Tiger Roll and Magic Of Light wouldn’t have been able to get away with that in the past.

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