It has been an eventful few months for horse racing in the British Isles. Similar to the United States and what has occurred in Santa Anita, there is a growing clamour to address the issue of equine deaths in the sport. Three horses died at the Cheltenham Festival, despite new rules to ensure horse welfare and tough suspensions for riders who break them.
There was also the equine flu outbreak, which threatened to derail the most important parts of the UK national hunt season. Thankfully, that was contained very quickly, but it did show how intertwined the business of racing is, and how quickly a virus can spread.
On a more positive note, there was the ‘crowning’ of Altior as the undisputed best jumps horse on the planet. At Cheltenham he won the Queen Mother Champion Chase for a second time, his fourth consecutive Festival victory and his 18th win on the bounce. He is no longer being compared with his peers, but rather the history books.
Tiger Roll poised to make history
Speaking of history, things are buzzing around the Grand National on 6th April, which has the potential to see end the national hunt season on a high note. Everything is pointing to victory for Tiger Roll, who is aiming to become the first horse since Red Rum to win the Grand National in two consecutive years.
Tiger Roll has been outstanding over the last couple of months, winning the Boyne Hurdle and emulating Altior by securing his fourth Cheltenham Festival victory. His odds for winning the Grand National have been slashed from 20/1 a couple of months ago to 4/1 (Betfair) today, as low as 3/1 with some other outlets. Odds as low as that are very rare for a Grand National.
Promotions available for Britain’s biggest race
Of course, nothing is guaranteed in horse racing, especially in race as demanding as the four-mile Grand National, and there is some quality opposition awaiting Tiger Roll. Indeed, you can get a free Grand National bet to use on Tiger Roll, but you might be able to extract more value out of someone like Anibale Fly, a 12/1 shot with William Hill after a strong second place finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Rathvinden, trained by the brilliant Willie Mullins, is also available at 12/1. Neither would be a surprise winner.
There has also been a lot of money going on Vintage Clouds, who has current best odds of 16/1 from Ladbrokes. The horse looks a real smart bet for an each-way place – don’t forget that many bookies will extend the number of places – and has experience of running in the Welsh and Scottish Grand Nationals, as well as a win at Aintree in the past. Winners of the Grand National at odds over 50/1 are not uncommon, so backers of horses like Walk In The Mill (33/1), Rock the Kasbah (25/1) and Captain Redbeard (50/1) will all feel they have a chance.
However, this feels like it is Tiger Roll’s date with destiny. If you watch his recent performances, you will see a horse in complete command of the field, waiting patiently to strike and turning the screw when necessary. It’s incredibly hard to win a Grand National, winning two is doubly difficult – but Tiger Roll has the chance to put himself up with the all-time greats and leave jumps racing fans with a smile on their face as we hurtle towards the end of the season.