WWelcome to our coverage of the first day of the 2021 Grand National Festival in Aintree. There are a few big names on display today, including two-time Champion Hurdle Air Drinker and 2018 Gold Cup champion Native River – but the star attraction is undoubtedly the two-time hero of the Grand National Tiger. Roll.
Unfortunately for racing fans, he won’t try to win a historic third national title on Saturday, but faces the Betway Bowl at 2:50 p.m. today – but it’s always a joy to see the living legend in action.
Tiger Roll enters today’s race after an outstanding fifth triumph at the Cheltenham Festival, in the Cross Country Chase, which cemented its status as the most popular horse in training.
After this success, our sports editor Oliver Brown shared his disappointment at the news that the Tiger will not have the chance to win their third National, writing “we cannot overstate the importance that Tiger Roll’s match with Red Rum would have both in the race and beyond ”.
He added: “The regret for Tiger Roll’s national omission is perfectly straightforward. It is that we have been denied the chance to see an icon become an immortal.”
Gigginstown Stud Race Director Eddie O’Leary downplayed Tiger Roll’s chances of success in the Betway Bowl, saying he had “no chance” of winning – making the decision to dismiss the National seems even more difficult to understand.
Kevin Blake made his thoughts clear on ITV Racing’s opening show this morning, saying it was “too bad” that the horse is racing today rather than Saturday – and there is no doubt that most fans of races will feel the same.