Elliott upbeat for Tiger's targets
Tiger Roll is still recovering from injury, but looked in fine fettle at Gordon Elliott's Cullentra Stables yesterday with the Meath trainer still planning for an Aintree Grand National hat-trick bid.
The loveable nine-year-old had a small chip removed from a joint recently meaning that he is confined to box rest for three weeks, having been ready to start his season prior to the setback.
It's still all systems go for the Aintree Grand National in April, however, with Elliott targeting the Grade Three Boyne Hurdle at Navan - which he won in a canter last season - for his seasonal reappearance in February. He will then aim for a Cross Country hat-trick at Cheltenham, or go straight to the Festival.
"His procedure went well and he'll be back walking on Friday week. He'll have three weeks walking and we'll get him back cantering steady. He was in full fitness and almost ready to run when it happened," Elliott said.
"It's not ideal, but if it happened in January or February, it'd be a lot worse. The Boyne Hurdle is where we'd love to go but there's a fair chance he'll go straight to Cheltenham for the Cross Country race."
"The Randox Grand National is the plan," added Elliott. "Obviously Michael O'Leary owns the horse and will make the final decision, but in my mind this is the race we've been training him for since last year.
"He carried 11st 5lb last year and we know he's going to have top-weight this time around. It's just how the weights are compressed. The handicapper has his job to do.
"I'm sure he's going to be fair with everyone and that everyone will be happy. He's going to have 11st 10lb or whatever top weight is. Would he have won with 5lb more last year? He probably would. If he's 5lb higher this year we'll be happy.
"I never second guess what Michael O'Leary says. The dream is to get this horse back to run in the Randox Grand National, to run will be awesome. If he could head out on the last circuit with a live chance it'd be some atmosphere.
"It's a Grand National and I know what can happen, that's what's brilliant about the race. You go to Cheltenham and there's a lot of pressure but it's a different type of pressure at Aintree. It's great to be there. If we get him there the build-up and atmosphere will be second to none."
Among the 14 Elliott-trained horses likely to partner Tiger Roll in the National are the likes of Galway Plate winner Borice, American Grand National winner Jury Duty and Cheltenham Festival winners The Storyteller and Shattered Love.