Gigginstown House Stud boss Michael O’Leary says the iconic Tiger Roll won’t be given a chance to equal Red Rum’s three Grand National Record due to a “ridiculous handicap rating.”

Tiger Roll has been given a rating of 161 by British handicapper Martin Greenwood, with an allocated weight of 11st 4lb to carry.

However, O’Leary has stated the judgement is “unfair” and “absurd” as he pulls Tiger Roll out of the running.

The racehorse owner said:

“Tiger Roll is now 12. He is clearly not as good as he was at eight or nine, yet the UK handicapper now rates him 2lb higher than his 159 rating in April 2019, when he won both the Boyne Hurdle and the Grand National.

“This rating is absurd and unfair on a 12-year-old chaser. It is a pity that the handicapper won’t give Tiger Roll either a fair rating or a fair weight in the Grand National, where he could at least try to emulate Red Rum’s three Grand National wins.

“However, the handicapper sets the weights, and even if he is manifestly wrong in the case of Tiger Roll, there is nothing we can do about it other than remove him from the race, since we don’t believe it is fair or safe to ask him to carry close to top weight at the age of 12.

“Since the top two horses in the handicap won’t run at Aintree this year, Tiger Roll will have to carry either 11st 8lb, or 11st 9lb at the age of 12, which is three years after he carried 11st 5lb at the age of nine to win the great race in April 2019.”

O’Leary declared Tiger Roll’s withdrawal, stating: “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 Grand National.”

Source: RacingPost https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2022/02/15/104855-large.jpeg

In the Grand National – a handicap chase – weights are allocated based on each horses individual rating.

A rating is given based on a horse’s previous success and performance, and weights are then allocated to level out the playing field to give each horse a fair chance of winning.

These weights are assigned via a handicap system, with each race having its own set handicap.

The higher a horse’s rating is, the higher it’s allocated weight will likely be, and therefore the heavier it will be in the race. This is to create fair competition.

Regarding the scenario, UK handicapper Martin Greenwood said:

“No doubt some people will accuse me of being too lenient and some will accuse me of being too cautious.

“The key word is balance, the horse is not getting any younger but you’ve got to remember that he was very impressive at Cheltenham last year, he hammered some decent horses.

“He was on 166 last year when he chose not to run, which was a disappointment for racegoers, I believe.

“On 161, he’s 2lb above his last winning National mark. Some people would argue he’s not the force of old but you can’t forget that Cheltenham annihilation less than 12 months ago and he put up one of the best performances in modern National history in 2019 – let’s hope connections take up the challenge this time.”

What’s next for Tiger Roll?

The iconic horse is only the second in history with back-to-back Grand National victories, winning the 2018 and 2019 competitions.

In 2018, he carried a weight of 10st 13lb and in 11st 5lb in 2019.

In March 2021, he won the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase after gliding to an 18L victory of Easysland – having been pulled out the Grand National that year as well.

He is being trained for the same race this year, where it could be his last race.

Tiger Roll in the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase 2021, where he conquered Easysland by 18 lengths.

Michael O’Leary said:

“Instead, Tiger Roll will be trained for the Cross Country at Cheltenham and there is every likelihood that win, lose or draw, this will be his last racecourse appearance. He will then return home for his well-earned retirement here in Gigginstown for the rest of his days.

“It’s sadly clear from his ratings that this handicapper doesn’t want Tiger Roll to run in this year’s Grand National, he won’t give him a fair chance, and sadly, the race will be the poorer for his absence.”

Whilst Tiger Roll will not have to opportunity to equal Red Rum’s record, trainer Gordon Elliot and owner O’Leary will look forward to next months race.

The 2022 Cheltenham Festival takes place between Tuesday, 15th March to Friday 18th March.

Horses like Honeysuckle, Shishkin, Allaho, Galopin des Champs and Sir Gerhard are amongst the favourites in this years iconic National Hunt horse racing spectacle.