The Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse, Tiger Roll, has been ruled out of the Grand National after his owner and Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said his allocated weight is ‘absurd’.
Tiger Roll would have been seeking his third Grand National win in April but the thoroughbred had been asked to carry 11st 4lb - the same as the 2021 winner Minella Times and 6lbs below the top weights of Conflated and Galvin.
The Grand National, a national Hunt horse race held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, is set to take place from 7 April to 9 April 2022.
The first run took place in 1839 and it is a handicap steeplechase over an official distance of about 4 miles and 2 ½ furlongs.
The horses are set to jump 30 fences over the course of two laps.
Tiger Roll was the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win back-to-back Grand Nationals, having won the event in 2018 and 2019.
2018 also saw the Irish-bred horse win three different types of races at Cheltenham Festival. He is now also one of only three horses to have won five or more races at the Cheltenham Festival, joining Quevega (6) and Golden Miller (5).
So what is wrong with Tiger Roll’s weight and why does it matter?
What is ‘allocated weight’?
The Grand National is a handicap chase where weights are allocated to each runner’s rating. The weight that is allocated refers to the weight of the jockey, the jockey’s kit and the saddle. If the weight the horse is supposed to carry is more than the weight of the jockey and his equipment, extra weight is made up by adding lead weights to the horse’s saddle cloth.
As the national is also a handicap chase, the horse will be awarded its initial official rating after fulfilling either winning a race, or they race three times.
After this, they can contest handicap races off the official rating they have received based on performances up to this date.
An example of this would be Horse 1 races in his third race and wins, beating Horse 2 (who is rated at 75) by four lengths.
One length in terms of finishing positions is equal to one lb of weight, or an increment of one in the horse’s official rating.
So in this instance, Horse 1 might be expected to be given an initial handicap mark of 79.
What has been said about Tiger Roll’s weight?
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair boss and owner of Gigginstown House stud made a statement saying: “We don’t believe it is fair or safe to ask him to carry close to top weight at the age of 12.
“Since we are responsible for the welfare of Tiger Roll, we must protect him from the idiotic opinion of this handicapper.
“We therefore regret to announce that he will not run in this year’s Aintree Grand National.
“Instead Tiger Roll will be trained for the Cross Country race in Cheltenham and there is every likelihood that win, lose or draw, this will be his last racecourse appearance.”
O’Leary also added that Tiger Roll could have been saddled with up to 4lb more than three years ago if the weights rose because stablemates Galvin and Conflated did not run.
The Handicapper, Martin Greenwood, said in reply: “As I keep telling people, you can’t just ignore his win in the Cross County at Cheltenham last season which was less than 12 months ago when he easily defeated two good horses in Easysland and some Neck.”
When is the Grand National?
The Grand National will take place from Friday 7 April to Sunday 9 April 2022. There are currently 104 entries at this stage for the 174th running of the race, although only 40 will line up on the day.
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