Trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed the running plans for dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll at the launch of winter racing at Navan and Fairyhouse in his Cullentra stables.
There had been speculation that Tiger Roll would take the same campaign as last season, where he took in the cross country handicap at the Cheltenham November meeting.
Elliott confirmed that due to the weight Tiger Roll would be required to carry at Cheltenham in November, that will definitely not be the case.
The dual Grand National winner will not be seen on track until after Christmas as he bids to win the famous race for a third time.
Tiger Roll will look to defend his Boyne Hurdle crown at Navan in February before attempting to win at a fifth Cheltenham Festival in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
🍎APPLE’S JADE & 🐅TIGER ROLL lead the string of stars up the gallop @gelliott_racing.
Apple’s Jade heads for the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan this Sunday and Tiger Roll will go again for the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle in February. @RacingTV pic.twitter.com/yASwIheQ20
— Navan Racecourse (@NavanRacecourse) November 7, 2019
Elliott has been consistent that the Cross Country is the immediate plan for Tiger Roll.
Connections have suggested that were Tiger Roll to have to carry too big a weight a historic third Grand National bid may be aborted.
This has been viewed by many as the beginning of some mind games between Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown camp and the British senior handicapper, whose job it is to draw up the Grand National weights.
The handicapper assesses the Grand National differently to other races and can condense the handicap. This has been less of a feature of weights launches since the retirement of Phil Smith, the former BHA senior handicapper.
The pressure will be on both camps to ensure Tiger Roll attempts to make history.
The onus on the handicapping team's side will be to ensure fairness for all of the horses (literally their job), not just Tiger Roll.
The imperative for Michael O'Leary and Gigginstown will be to run the horse and let the public witness the bid for history. Not that they've ever bowed to pressure!
There is an incredible public appetite for Tiger Roll.
Rarely an equine event passes that the dual Grand National winner does not get an invite to. His stable is by far the most visited in Elliott's yard.
"Even if we had two gigs a week, it's still not enough for people wanting to see this lad," said Elliott at the top of his gallops yesterday as he pointed at Tiger Roll cantering in behind Apples Jade at the front of his string.
It will be Michael O'Leary who has the final say, as Gordon Elliott routinely reminds people:
"Michael pays the bills, so he calls the shots."
Red Rum won three Grand Nationals between 1973 and 1977, but no horse has won three in a row at Aintree.
History beckons for Tiger Roll if Michael O'Leary gives the go ahead.