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Russell: Roll on next year

Jockey hopes Tiger gets a shot at Aintree hat-trick

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Davy Russell and Tiger Roll on their way to winning a second successive Grand National last April. Pic: Racing Post

Davy Russell and Tiger Roll on their way to winning a second successive Grand National last April. Pic: Racing Post

Davy Russell and Tiger Roll on their way to winning a second successive Grand National last April. Pic: Racing Post

Davy Russell has his fingers crossed Tiger Roll will get his chance to enter the Grand National history books next year.

It was announced last week the Aintree spectacular will not be run this year, with the racing calendar on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, Tiger Roll has won back-to-back runnings - emulating Red Rum - and was all set to become the first horse ever to win the world's greatest steeplechase three times in succession.

"You'd love a go, you'd love a crack at it," said Russell. "Unfortunately it's not to be, but we've won two and they've been very special.

"Gordon has said maybe there could be a chance he'll stay in training to have a cut at it next year, so there's always positives in things. We'll have to wait and see, but it is a pity.

"From this week in we've always been building towards a Grand National and the last two Nationals I've been to, I've won - it's a happy hunting ground for me at the moment.

"It's just unfortunate we're not going to get a cut at it this year, but listening to the comments, there's a chance he might be there next year."

Russell has also been left wondering what might have been with Presenting Percy, after he fell two from home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

"I was about to pull the trigger on him," added Russell. "Whether he would have won is in the lap of the gods, but I felt like I was going to finish in front of Monalee and I just felt at the time, turning off the bend, I had him covered and he finished a close fourth.

"I was ready to pull the trigger on my lad to let him have one cut at him up the hill and unfortunately we didn't get that opportunity.

"He's a very good horse and Pat (Kelly) has had him in great shape - compared to last year it felt like I was riding a completely different horse.

"He was really on song and jumped brilliant up to that. He'd never done it before, but it was always in him to have a go at a fence."

Trainer Gearoid O'Loughlin hopes the success of Space Cadet in the Ulster National is a sign of things to come when racing returns to normality.

The 10-year-old won just his third race under rules in the Downpatrick feature, having threatened to be a classy chaser for Elliott a few seasons ago.

Given a new lease of life at his new yard, Space Cadet obliged at 25-1 under amateur Ben Harvey. O'Loughlin is operating out of owner Chris Jones's yard in County Meath.

"In his last season with Gordon he pulled up a few times so Chris decided on a change of scene," said O'Loughlin.

"We'd hunted him a few times and he went pointing just to freshen him up. He won twice.

"He was given an exceptional ride by Ben on Sunday, who gets on really well with him for some reason. Ben rode him to win on his first run for me so it was nice he was on him again.

"I don't know what we'll do now. Without the virus we might have thought about the Scottish National, something like that."