Journal De Bruxelles - National hero Tiger Roll denied fairytale win by stablemate

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National hero Tiger Roll denied fairytale win by stablemate
National hero Tiger Roll denied fairytale win by stablemate

National hero Tiger Roll denied fairytale win by stablemate

Two-time Grand National champion Tiger Roll came agonisingly close to a fairytale farewell to the sport he adorned, only to be denied by his stablemate Delta Work in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday.

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Jack Kennedy and Delta Work returned to some jeering after spoiling the script, but Tiger Roll then joined him and the booing was drowned out by cheering.

The 12-year-old star lost nothing in defeat, given the heavy rain during the day had seemingly ruined his chances. But the tiny horse once again showed he had, as rider Davy Russell had said, a "heart of a lion".

"It's hard not to feel disappointed," said owner Michael O'Leary.

"A winner in Cheltenham and I'm disappointed. He's a warrior. He went out on his shield.

"I was booing myself! I was shouting 'Please Jack don't go past him', just let him win!

"It's not often you want to give away a win at Cheltenham but it would've been a terrific finish for Tiger, it would've been a fairy tale."

The Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll will retire after 45 races with 13 victories -- including five at the Festival -- and the first horse since the legendary Red Rum in 1973/74 to win successive Grand Nationals (2018/19).

Elliott termed Tiger Roll as "a horse of a lifetime" and Russell -- whose expression told of immense disappointment -- paid a handsome tribute.

"He went down fighting," said Russell, who rode him in both his National victories in 2018 and 2019.

"He just could not shake Jack (Kennedy) off but he went down fighting.

"Sure, he is fantastic. He always seemed to get me out of jail. Unfortunately it was not to be today."

For Kennedy it was some consolation, as he had lost the ride on last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo for Friday's showpiece race when O'Leary said Delta Work would be his Gold Cup runner before changing his mind.

J.M.Gillet--JdB