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Jockey Davy Russell displays on unlikely Grand Nationwide hero Tiger Roll (and divulges why he’d by no means make a showjumper)


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  • With the Randox Grand National at Aintree set to take place later today (9 April), we’ve taken a look back on the career of one of the heroes of the world’s most famous race, Tiger Roll, who retired from the sport last month.

    Jockey Davy Russell rode Tiger Roll in both his Grand National victories, in 2019 and 2020, and one of his five Cheltenham Festival successes, and he tells H&H racing editor Jennifer Donald on this week’s episode of The Horse & Hound Podcast that he “ran like a little terrier” in the finish of his races.



    But Davy’s great association with Tiger Roll only came about when he was offered a catch ride on a four-year-old Tiger in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014.

    “You would have imagined that he was going to be a hurdler back then, with his stature and the way he jumped his hurdles low and accurate,” says Davy. “He really stayed on up the hill and he was impressive that day.”

    As Tiger Roll progressed and began his career over fences, Davy describes his slightly unorthodox jumping style.

    “He jumped the fence the same way he jumped the hurdle – very low and very fast – he would rub his belly along the birch he was so low and at times it would actually pull his girth back. He was shocking quick over them though and he was very sturdy on his feet, so he never felt like he was going to fall, but he just didn’t give you the feel of a real chaser. But the more Tiger Roll jumps, the more he sees a fence, the happier he is and the more interested he is.”

    Keeping him interested at home was key to his training.

    “He’s not that keen on going round the gallop – he gets bored quite easy,” says Davy. “But when he gets racing and jumping and schooling, that’s when he really comes alive.”

    But while he can soar over the formidable Grand National fences without batting an eyelid, Davy reveals he’d never make a showjumper.

    “I wouldn’t like to jump a course of 1m on him!” he says. “He’d break every pole in the place!”

    Tiger also liked to keep his rider – and everyone around him – on their toes.
    “He’ll buck you off!” reveals Davy. “He also has a habit of sticking his bum under the white railing and kicking it up off the cups. He’d frighten every horse around him and I’m sure he did it on purpose.”

    Davy describes Tiger Roll as an unlikely Grand National hero, but the gelding made history by becoming the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.

    “I didn’t think he’d get round the Grand National because of the way he jumps – they’re such demanding fences,” he says. “But as soon as we crossed the Melling Road to show him the first fence, I could feel him sitting back on his hocks and looking at the fence and I was really pleased because he was giving me the feeling he knew he had to jump something different.

    “His speed from take off to landing was incredible – he could pass horses in mid-air,” he adds.

    Looking ahead to this year’s race, Davy, who has been booked to ride another Gigginstown fancy, Run Wild Fred, says: “After all those days when you’re riding round in the muck and the dirt wondering ‘Is anyone watching, why are we doing this?’ Then all of a sudden you have an opportunity to ride in the Grand National and you’re centre stage for those few minutes. It’s just a marvellous event.”

    You might also be interested in:

    Ever wondered what past Grand National-winning horses are now up? H&H takes a look…

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