Tiger Roll cemented his status as a Cheltenham Festival legend on Wednesday as he bounced back from his recent struggles to record a stunning victory in the Cross Country Chase.
The dual Grand National winner looked to be approaching the end of the road based on his previous performances this year, finishing no better than sixth in two outings at Navan, while he was pulled up in his latest run at Cheltenham last November.
Following those recent poor showings and with owner Michael O’Leary withdrawing him from this year’s Grand National due to concerns over the weight he has been allocated, there had been talk of retirement for Tiger Roll.
However, the 11-year-old may have made his connections think again after putting those defeats behind him, returning to his brilliant best to win for a fifth time at the Festival, claiming the Cross Country Case by 18 lengths from last year’s winner Easyland.
“It’s unbelievable. If it wasn’t for this horse I wouldn’t be riding. Never underestimate the Tiger,” said winning jockey Keith Donoghue.
“We know the horse he is. He loved it and that’s the Tiger we see at home. He is just a legend.”
Tiger Roll’s triumph was just one of several successes enjoyed by Irish trainers on St Patrick’s Day as Henry de Bromhead completed a big-race double thanks to Put The Kettle On’s victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The feature race of the afternoon had looked like going to script with odds-on favourite Chacun Pour Soi in control heading up the run-in, only for the Willie Mullins charge to tire.
That allowed Aidan Coleman to guide Put The Kettle On to the front as she snatched glory in the final 100 yards, holding off runner-up Nube Negra as de Bromhead’s yard backed up Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle win for Honeysuckle.
Wednesday had started well for favourite backers as Bob Olinger (6/1 2022 Marsh Novices’ Chase) claimed the opener, the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, while Monkfish survived a scare when nearly falling at the last before recovering to land the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
Following Monkfish’s victory, his price to win the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup has been cut to 6/1 with trainer Mullins confirming the seven-year-old will be aimed at the Blue Riband race next year.
Other winners on Wednesday included 33/1 outsider Heaven Help Us, who won the Coral Cup, while Sky Pirate claimed the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup and Sir Gerhard landed the Champion Bumper.