Talking Horses: no leniency for Tiger Roll despite Cheltenham flop | Sport
Connections of Tiger Roll will be disappointed to learn that the British handicapper is not minded to make a significant adjustment to the horse’s rating, following his flop at Cheltenham on Friday. It means the veteran steeplechaser will have to beat a very high rating of around 169 if he is to win a third Grand National next year, as he is not expected to race over fences again before the National weights are fixed in mid-February.
“His rating will have to be readjusted, it’s crazy,” was the reaction from Michael O’Leary of Gigginstown Stud, owners of Tiger Roll, after he was pulled up in Friday’s race. “It always has been crazy, but now it’s completely crazy.”
But Martin Greenwood, the handicapper with responsibility for staying chasers, told The Guardian on Monday he felt that Tiger Roll had so thoroughly failed to show his true form on Friday, it would not be sensible to make a major change to his rating. “All that build-up and then it was such a weird race,” Greenwood said.
“Easysland never jumped and Tiger Roll was never going. He never went a yard.”
Greenwood has made some allowance for the possibility that Tiger Roll cannot live up to his lofty rating, going back to last year’s Grand National and downgrading his performance rating by 2lbs. That would allow the horse to be rated 169 in his next British handicap. “I don’t think there’s much more I want to do just now,” the handicapper added.
The Racing Post reported on Monday that Tiger Roll will now be rested until the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in February. It means Greenwood will have no further evidence of Tiger Roll’s ability over fences before he has to set the National weights. He would have discretion to drop the horse a few more pounds for the Aintree race but at present he does not appear persuaded that any such move would be justified.
Tiger Roll won his second National off a rating of 159. Following up in next year’s race from a 10lb higher mark at the age of 11 would be a very tough assignment, but Greenwood also has a duty to be fair to all the other runners and will be wary of showing any undue leniency to the public favourite.
Twiston-Davies keeps ride on Clan Des Obeaux
Sam Twiston-Davies is to ride Clan Des Obeaux in Saturday’s Betfair Chase, Paul Nicholls has revealed. The trainer is already thinking ahead to the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, in which he expects to run both Clan and Cyrname.
Nicholls’s principal jockey, Harry Cobden, is committed to partnering Cyrname through the season, including in a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Twiston-Davies, who won last year’s King George on Clan Des Obeaux, will therefore get the ride on that horse again on Boxing Day and so Nicholls sees some value in their having a reunion of sorts at Haydock this weekend.
“I need Harry at Ascot on Saturday to ride Laurina and Real Steel and plenty of other nice ones,” Nicholls explained, “so it just worked out that’s probably the right way of doing it.”
It means Twiston-Davies has a fine chance of a first victory in the Betfair, a race his father, Nigel, has won as a trainer three times. Clan Des Obeaux is only third in the betting, thanks in part to a general expectation that he will need this first run since the spring, but Nicholls insists the horse is “very fit” and would have “no excuses” on that score.
Tuesday’s best bets
Hijran (2.33) is being overlooked at 16-1 for a mares’ handicap hurdle at Fakenham. She was well held at Cheltenham last month but that was as hot a race as one would expect and her stable had not, at the time, had a winner since July but she travelled as though she belonged in the race for a long way.
Henry Oliver has had a couple of winners in the past fortnight and other runners have fared well, so we could see a better effort in a more winnable contest here. She has not often had the decent ground she needs since her winning run early last year.
Muilean Na Madog (3.03) got tired in the Lingfield mud last week but Tuesday’s conditions should help him score for his new stable at 13-8 or so. Meanwhile, Adrian Keatley, who gave this column a winner on Monday, has good chances at Fakenham and Newcastle with Champagne Terri (1.33) and Mo Henry (6.45).