London – Britain’s bookmakers are counting the cost of Tiger Roll’s victory in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
Trainer Gordon Elliott’s charge was sent-off a 10-1 joint second favourite and had been prominent in the market since winning a cross-country race at the Cheltenham Festival for the third successive year last month.
Skybet spokesman Michael Shinners said: “After a run of bookmaker-friendly results in the Grand National over the last few years this was definitely one for the punters.
“Tiger Roll has been popular through all our markets and was our second worst result in the book. It was a thrilling race but it’s fair to say the layers were hoping second-placed Pleasant Company was going to get there with his late rally.”
The firm has already opened a market on next year’s Aintree spectacular and installed Tiger Roll as the 16-1 favourite. Pleasant Company is a 25-1 chance alongside last year’s National hero One For Arthur and Terrefort, who won a Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree on Friday.
It may be the UK’s biggest betting race, but size did not matter on Saturday as pint-sized Tiger Roll showed gallons of courage to claim the trophy. But it was mighty close.
In a climax fought out between Ireland’s two dominant jumps stables, Elliott’s Tiger Roll had coasted to the front at the second-last fence, striding clear of a seemingly beaten Pleasant Company from the Willie Mullins camp, who had made a lot of the running.
Yet, as the noise from the stands reached crescendo pitch to acclaim jockey Davy Russell and his mount, their six-length lead began to evaporate. Rival rider David Mullins and Pleasant Company were not done after all.
They finished right alongside Tiger Roll at the post in a finish so close that neither jockey was confident who had won before the photo-finish gave it to Tiger Roll by a head, delivering second Grand National triumphs to Elliott and owner Michael O’Leary, and a first for Russell.
In 13 previous rides in the race Russell, 38, the oldest jockey in the 2018 National and soon to be crowned champion of Ireland, came closest to winning last year when third on Saint Are.
Russell had been worried the eight-year-old, who at 15.2 hands was described by owner O’Leary as “a little rat of a thing”, would not take to the huge National fences, but there was never any cause for alarm.
Bless The Wings, also trained by Elliott, hung on for third by a neck from Anibale Fly in fourth, while Milansbar in fifth made Bryony Frost first among the three female riders in the race. Katie Walsh on 16-1 chance Baie Des Iles finished 12th – the last of the 38 starters to complete the 6800m marathon. – sportinglife.com, racingpost.com