Grand National: Tiger Roll becomes first back-to-back winner since Red Rum

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Grand National: Tiger Roll becomes first back-to-back winner since Red Rum
Listen to the moment Tiger Roll won the Grand National for a second time

Tiger Roll won a thrilling Grand National to become the first horse since Red Rum 45 years ago to win the Aintree race back-to-back.

The 4-1 favourite, ridden by Davy Russell, was level with Magic of Light (66-1) going over the last fence, but pulled clear to repeat last year’s win.

Ruby Walsh finished third on Rathvinden (8-1) with Walk in the Mill (25-1) fourth.

Russell said: “I can’t believe this has happened.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the 39-year-old Irishman added: “Two Grand Nationals is a dream and beyond anything I thought I would ever achieve.

“I love Liverpool. They have the most spectacular sporting event. It touches the world – I’m just so happy to be involved.

“It’s brilliant news if this is the worst day for the bookies! If the taxi driver and the baker raise a glass to Tiger Roll, that is the beauty of it all.”

It was a third National success for trainer Gordon Elliott, who as well as last year also won with Silver Birch in 2007.

However, Willie Mullins-trained Up For Review suffered a fatal injury after it was brought down at the first, becoming the race’s first fatality since 2012.

Of the other fancied horses, Anibale Fly made a bad mistake towards the end of the first circuit but ran on to finish fifth, while 2017 winner One For Arthur came sixth.

Tiger Roll the history maker

Tiger Roll was carrying weights of 11st 5lbs – 6lb more than last year

Not since the legendary Red Rum in 1974 had a horse successfully defended the Grand National.

Red Rum added a third in 1977 to become one of the all-time greats, and now Tiger Roll has sealed his place in Aintree folklore.

Tiger Roll was the overwhelming favourite and is the shortest-priced winner since Poethlyn (11-4) exactly 100 years ago.

Tiger Roll’s odds came despite carrying more weight than last year, although he had shown his wellbeing by winning his two most recent starts, firstly over hurdles and then in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

The nine-year-old’s chances were played down before the race by his owner, Ryanair tycoon Michael O’Leary.

And the smallest horse in the field did not feature at the front for the opening two thirds of the race, but timed his charge perfectly in the closing stages.

He looked the strongest over the final three fences and, after taking the last, Tiger Roll cruised clear to win by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

O’Leary said afterwards: “It’s unbelievable. It’s a phenomenal training performance by Gordon. It’s brilliant that he keeps bringing this horse back at Cheltenham better than ever and Aintree better than ever.

“And what a ride by Davy – fantastic. It’s unbelievable, to win two Grand Nationals is just incredible.”

The win is the second consecutive Grand National victory for owner Michael O’Leary (left) and jockey Davy Russell

A ‘dream’ third win for emotional Elliott

Elliott had 11 horses taking part and before the race he defended his record number of runners, saying: “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I don’t come from a horse background.

“Everything I have, I’ve worked very hard for it. I’ve got five or six different owners, they’ve all paid their entry fee, they’re all entitled to have a runner in the race.”

After the win, the Irishman said: “Winning this is special, I just can’t wait to get home to see all my family and friends.

“I was trying to watch all of mine, I can’t believe it. I never once thought he was going to win until he crossed the line, because I could remember last year. He didn’t tie up this year.

“I don’t get upset too often, but I’m emotional today. For my whole yard and everyone involved it’s unbelievable – you dream about this.”

Gordon Elliott had 11 of the 40 horses in the race

‘Grand National’s newest legend’ – analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght:

Winning successive Grand Nationals has become something of a ‘Holy Grail’ for Aintree winners, even more so because the last back-to-back winner was the iconic Red Rum, but we had begun to wonder whether it might be an impossible dream.

However, Tiger Roll barely put a foot wrong as he took his exalted place in the Aintree history books as its newest legend – a big word that, but it fits this little horse perfectly.

So much about the race revolves around its heritage and they will be talking about this horse, his extraordinary trainer and this day for decades to come.

‘Tiger Roll is a once in a lifetime horse’ – what the rest said

Magic of Light trainer Jessica Harrington: “I didn’t expect her to run that well. I wasn’t even going to bring her because we thought the fences would be too big.

“All the way round I couldn’t believe how easily she was going. She was going so well – then I saw Tiger Roll on the inside. Tiger Roll is just amazing – he’s even better this year. He’s the most gorgeous little horse, and so accurate at his fences.”

Rathvinden trainer Willie Mullins: “Tiger Roll is a phenomenon. For an ex-Flat horse – he’s not a typical four-mile chaser – but he’s got some appetite for racing with a great eye for jumping. He’s once in a lifetime.”

Walk in the Mill jockey James Best: “That was brilliant – it was a lot of fun. He travelled a lot better early doors than I thought he would and jumped for fun. I didn’t see Tiger Roll until over the last three fences – and what a horse he is.”

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