The hugely popular dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll returned to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure after an emphatic victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday (17 March).
In doing so, the 11-year-old entered the history books as only the third horse to win five or more races at the Festival. Tiger Roll won the same race in 2018 and 2019, as well as the National Hunt Chase in 2017 and the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2014. The only other horses to achieve this feat are Golden Miller, successful in five Cheltenham Gold Cups, and Quevega, who won the mares’ hurdle six times.
Lisa O’Neill, representing winning trainer Denise Foster, said: “He is a sensation and words cannot describe what he is. He means so much to the team back home. I think some people may have lost a bit of faith in his last few runs during this season but we retained all the faith in him as we knew he still had plenty of fire in his belly and he showed that today.
“I suppose he disappointed a little bit in the cross country race in December then he ran on the Flat and ran over hurdles but I suppose none of them were too encouraging. But we knew at home he was alive and he tells when he is feeling well.
“He loves coming to Cheltenham and coming up that hill with that sun on his back. Everything just falls into place here.”
She added: “He loves it here and Keith knows him so well. He has just been a revelation for Keith and of course for Davy Russell, who he is a dual Grand National winner for.”
Many people had written off the Grand National hero – who was withdrawn from this year’s race – after some lacklustre performances. However he looked better than ever at a near-empty Cheltenham, winning by 18 lengths for owners Gigginstown House Stud.
“He really came alive,” said his winning jockey Keith Donoghue. “We said we’d change the tactics with him today – we’d jump him out, take a lead, sit him second or third and make up his mind today. He came alive and he jumped brilliantly. I was in control of the race after halfway; he was just in his comfort zone, and when Tiger comes alive like that, you don’t take him back.
“We always knew what this horse could show, and there’s no better horse than Tiger Roll to doubt the doubters. It’s unbelievable – there’s no better feeling in the world. I wish I could do it again!”
Sadly the Ben Case-trained Kings Temptation was put down after suffering an injury on the flat late on during the race.