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Tiger Roll nowhere near as fit as he was last year for Boyne Hurdle defence, says Elliott

Sat 15 Feb 2020

Tiger Roll and Magic Of Light – first and second in the Randox Health Grand National last April – meet in a pre-Aintree dust-up at Navan in the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle on Sunday.

The diminutive Tiger Roll can lay claim to being the most famous horse in training at present, having emulated Red Rum and a handful of others by winning two Grand Nationals.

While he will face his toughest task in this season’s renewal, having been handed joint-top weight on Tuesday, his participation has at least been confirmed by his connections.

Tune into the latest On The Wire podcast where Johnny Ward and Brendan Duke preview this weekend's racing action in Ireland

What is often forgotten among his Aintree heroics, however, is the fact he has also won at four Cheltenham Festivals – and should he come through Sunday’s race well, he will next attempt to make that five in the Glenfarclas Chase, over the cross country course, which he has won for the past two years.

Trainer Gordon Elliott is keen to point out, however, that the setback which has delayed Tiger Roll’s return this season will make it hard for him to repeat his surprise win in this race 12 months ago.

Watch again as Tiger Roll wins at 25/1 in last year's race!

“He’s nowhere near as fit as he was last year, and this is a starting point for him,” said Elliott.

“He’s only back cantering since the first day of this year, whereas last year he was going all season.

“He will come on from the run – he’s not as fit as last year – but I hope I’m wrong. It’s a stepping stone back to the National.”

Jessica Harrington’s Magic Of Light has had three runs already, winning two, one each over hurdles and fences.

“The whole season has been planned around ending up at Aintree with her,” said Harrington.

“We’re having to take on Tiger Roll this weekend, and then we might go to Cheltenham as well.

“She made plenty of mistakes in the National, including at the last, but she always found a leg – and then she seemed to attack the next fence with more relish after each mistake.”

Willie Mullins runs Bachasson, not seen since finishing fourth in this race 12 months ago, Killultagh Vic and Penhill.

Assistant trainer David Casey said: “It looks a good race. Penhill has been taking every run this season to get cherry-ripe, but he’s coming forward all the time – and hopefully he’ll run well.

“Killultagh Vic has been running away all season, and the trip and the ground should be OK for him.

“Bachasson is having his first run back after a break. We hope he’ll run well and come out of it well, and then we can think about where we go next with him.”

The fast-improving Kilfenora is among those in opposition, as he steps up in class following lucrative handicap wins at Naas and Navan.

Watch how Kilfenora scored at Navan last time out

Kilfenora’s trainer, Eddie Harty, said: “He’s come out of his two wins well. He’s won his way up the bar, so realistically you have to look at these type of races.

“In handicaps he’s going to be top weight or close to it. He’s won his way to having a chance at one of these, so we’re going to test the water on Sunday. He deserves to be there.”

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