Grand National: Handicapper has his say on weights

Ross Houston
February 14, 2020

Nickel Coin in 1951 is the most recent mare to win the Aintree spectacular.

Martin Greenwood, the British Horseracing Authority's senior steeplechase handicapper, has acceded to O'Leary's wish for "compression" at the top of the weights, but only by 1lb for Tiger Roll - nowhere near what O'Leary perceives as the average compression - and he would have to run off a rating of 170. The different mares engaged are Shattered Love (Gordon Elliott IRE, 10st 6lb), Atalanta Ablaze (Henry Daly, 9st 13lb), Cabaret Queen (Willie Mullins IRE, 9st 13lb). Both horses are owned by J P McManus.

"It's a bit disappointing given the recent history", Eddie O'Leary said on Tuesday, pointing out Tiger Roll is being asked to give 4lb to Native River, the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup victor.

Reacting to today's announcement of the National weights, Gigginstown House Stud racing manager Eddie O'Leary revealed that he is "not sure" whether Tiger Roll will take his place at Aintree on April 4.

"This decision was essentially taken in two factors: the historical compression that was introduced by Phil Smith and has been used for the last 10 years or so".

However, owners Gigginstown House Stud have admitted that they might instead go for the Betway Bowl - due to the increase in weight placed on Tiger Roll.

"Tiger Roll was rated 172 at the end of past year and obviously there is no recent evidence to continue due to its fitness problems, so its disability mark has not been quantifiable since then". He is subsequently coming down 2lb and carries the identical weight as Suny Bay did when he was second in the 1998 Grand National.

Elliott was more accepting of Tiger Roll's rating.

Sunday's outing will be a first look at Tiger Roll since having a chip removed from a joint in November, but Elliott has no qualms about him running, "Yeah he's in good form, he's back cantering since the 1st of January".

"No other horse has carried that rating since".

What is far more important at this present time is that he gets through Sunday at Navan okay and then comes out of Cheltenham and the Cross Country race in one piece.

"He's alongside Delta Work, who's nearly certain not to run, so he'll be stuck up there on his own".

Other names to highlight are Kimberlite Candy (Tom Lacey, 10st 4lb), victor of the G3 Classic Handicap Chase in Warwick, and the victor of Listed Sky Bet Chase Ok Corral (Nicky Henderson, 10st 9lb).

Ten horses have received 11 or more.

"Tiger Roll has also not yet qualified for this year's National".

The moment Tiger Roll and Davy Russell made Grand National history a year ago but will they line up in the 2020 race? Other horses towards the top include Bristol de Mai and Native River. Bristol de Mai was rated 173 when entered final 12 months and that determine has been downgraded since to 168. I have dropped Native River 2lb to 166 as Bristol De Mai has finished in front of him the last couple of times they have met, and I thought he was workmanlike when winning at Newbury on Saturday. The race includes the winners of numerous "nationals", including the most recent Irish (Burrows Saint), Scottish (Takingrisks) and Welsh (Potters Corner).

Greenwood described the 105 possibles as "the highest quality entry of the modern era" and said his task was "relatively straight- forward".

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