Tiger Roll etched his name in the record books by becoming only the third horse in history to win five or more races at The Festival™ supporting WellChild.
The 11 year old ran out a convincing winner of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, having previously won the same contest in 2018 and 2019 as well as the National Hunt Chase in 2017 and the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2014.
In today’s race, the son of Authorized sauntered to an 18-length victory over his conqueror 12 months ago and Evens favourite Easysland.
The only other horses to win five or more Festival races are Golden Miller, successful in five Cheltenham Gold Cups between 1932 and 1936, and Quevega, who won the Mares’ Hurdle six times between 2009 and 2014.
Lisa O’Neill, representing winning trainer Denise Foster said: “He is a sensation and words cannot describe what he is. He means so much to the team back home. I think some people may have lost a bit of faith in his last few runs during this season but we retained all the faith in him as we knew he still had plenty of fire in his belly and he showed that today.
“I suppose he disappointed a little bit in the cross country race in December then he ran on the Flat and ran over hurdles but I suppose none of them were too encouraging. But we knew at home he was alive and he tells when he is feeling well.
“He loves coming to Cheltenham and coming up that hill with that sun on his back. Everything just falls into place here. It is hard for us to put a finger on it (swapping places with Easysland from 12 months ago).
“We just know what ability he has and he showed that there today and he turned the tables on Easysland. He has been in great form since he got here and that is the main thing. He loves it here and Keith knows him so well. He has just been a revelation for Keith and of course for Davy Russell, who he is a dual Grand National winner for.
“Words can’t describe him. Keith gave him a great ride. He jumped him off lovely and got him in a great position and took it up a nice way out and gave him plenty of light at his jumps. He just showed real enthusiasm and sweetness for the game.
“We knew from what at like he was at home and how well and great he was feeling at home but his record wasn’t speaking volumes, his track record this season but it is hard to kind of write him off straight away. He has so much ability and he was showing us so much at home you couldn’t write him off.
“Gigginstown thought it was the best choice to take him out the Grand National and they have his best interests at heart so we will go home and speak to the owners and see what the plan is then.”
Winning rider Keith Donoghue said: “He really came alive. We said we’d change the tactics with him today – we’d jump him out, take a lead, sit him second or third and make up his mind today. He came alive and he jumped brilliantly. I was in control of the race after halfway; he was just in his comfort zone, and when Tiger comes alive like that, you don’t take him back.
“We never doubted that we had him peaking for the right time. It’s well known that we didn’t have the preparation with him that we wanted last year. We were happy with his run in Navan on ground that he absolutely hates. We had the faith. We always knew what this horse could show, and there’s no better horse than Tiger Roll to doubt the doubters.
“I knew at halfway by the way that he was going and the way that he was jumping that it would take a good horse to go by him today. It’s unbelievable – there’s no better feeling in the world. I wish I could do it again!
“He’s a very, very good horse, but is it the Cross Country jumps that make the best of him? I’m not sure he’d be as good over park fences or hurdles. We don’t know, but we think there’s something about the Cross Country fences that sparks him up, and obviously the National fences do the same. When Tiger Roll is on a going day, it takes a very good horse to beat him.”
Felix De Giles, rider of runner-up Easysland, said: “It’s frustrating, but he’s run a great race. Tiger Roll on his day is a Grade One horse. They say he wants heavy ground, but it was very holding and hard work, so no excuses. Tiger Roll has absolutely bolted up. It was no contest, but we are happy with ours.”
Jason Kiely, representing trainer David Cottin, said after speaking on the phone to the French-based handler: “David was happy. Tiger Roll is a superstar after all, so no disgrace to be second to him, and at least we have age on our side, so we’ll come back and try again.”
Sir Anthony McCoy, who was owner J P McManus’ retained rider for many years, said: “He just didn’t look good enough – no excuses I don’t think. My personal view is that he’d have no chance at Aintree off the same mark as Gold Cup horses (Easysland has joint top-weight, off a mark of 167). I’d be amazed if he ran. I couldn’t see the point of it.”
Richard Johnson, rider of third home Some Neck, said: “He’s run really well. I think realistically he was just beaten by two very good horses, but he gave me a great ride and stayed really well, so I’m sure he’ll be back again for a few of these races in the future.
“He enjoys it here, he stays well and I’m sure he’ll be back again soon. John McConnell is in Ireland with everything that’s going on, but hopefully they’ll be thrilled with that and they’ll know they can come back for another day.”
1st – Tiger Roll – Denise Foster IRE 11-11-04 Keith Donoghue 9/2
2nd – Easysland – David Cottin FR 7-11-10 Felix de Giles Evens Fav
3rd – Some Neck – John McConnell IRE 10-11-04 Richard Johnson 17/2
Distances: 18, 2¼
Time: 8m 42.65s
Winning Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
Breeder: G O’Brien
Breeding: b g Authorized (IRE) – Swiss Roll (IRE) (Entrepreneur)
Denise Foster – 2nd winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild
Keith Donoghue – 3rd winner at The Festival™ supporting WellChild