It’s become almost cliched to say that anyone can win the Grand National (6th April). That’s evidenced by the winners at 100/1 (Mon Mome, 2009) and 66/1 (Auroras Encore, 2013) we have seen in the last decade. The showcase of British national hunt horse racing is a massive betting event in the UK and beyond, with the lottery-type results of the race attracting in casual bettors for their annual flutter. Sweepstakes are also a popular method of having a punt on the race.
In saying all that, the 2018 winner, Tiger Roll, was a popular choice with experienced punters and clinched the big race at odds of around 10/1, albeit on a photo finish. However, the horse has looked even better this year, taking his fourth Cheltenham Festival victory this week. As a consequence, Tiger Roll has dropped down to 5/1 with sportsbooks for the 2019 Grand National.
It wasn’t just the victory at Cheltenham, but rather the manner of Tiger Roll’s win that made bookies’ slash his odds. A commanding performance in the Glenfarclas Chase – a grueling trek just under 4 miles that requires similar stamina to the National – saw Tiger Roll leave a quality field in his wake once again. From about the half-way point, the result was never really in doubt. Towards the finish, Tiger Roll looked like he could travel on twice the distance.
Comparisons to Red Rum
Comparisons have been drawn to another horse, one that transcends the confines of British national hunt racing – Red Rum. Tiger Roll could become the first horse to win multiple Grand Nationals since the legendary three-time winner of the 1970s. The horse is also young enough at 9-years-old to have a couple of cracks at emulating Red Rum’s three victories.
Of course, there are other options to bet on GN 2019. Rathvinden, who is given a best price of 14/1, is a tough customer, having won the Bobby Jo Chase recently and the National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last year. He has plenty of experience, yet he has never been tested over the fences of Aintree before. Vintage Clouds will also take plenty of money, with odds ranging from 14/1 right up to 25/1 at other bookies.
Elegant Escape looks a winner
If any horse could one day take Tiger Roll’s crown as the king of long-distance chasing, Elegant Escape looks the most likely. Being 7-years-old puts Elegant Escape just on the margins (there hasn’t been a winner younger than 8-years-old since the Second World War), but the horse has already won the Welsh Grand National and looks the exact type to upend the history books. 20/1 (various) looks a shrewd bet, even if it is each-way.
Going back to Tiger Roll, though. There is something that sets him apart from the rest. An assuredness and control, stamina and jumping ability. Above all, however, there is that unique quality that only the greatest horses possess; namely, an ability to move through the gears when it counts. Tiger Roll was poised nicely the whole way through his last race at Cheltenham. Towards the finish, it almost looked like jockey Keith Donoghue put his foot on an accelerator pedal, leaving the field trailing behind. Remember, this was after 3½ miles had been completed.
As mentioned earlier, it’s tough to win the Grand National and the nature of the contest means big-odds winners are not uncommon. But this special horse, Tiger Roll, looks like an extraordinary horse and should be backed.