The stage is set for the “horse of a lifetime” Tiger Roll

Gordon Elliott expects Tiger Roll to take the brunt of the Glenfarclas Chase today as his ‘horse of his life’ prepares to bow out after a bid for a fourth success in the race.

The gelding is a Cheltenham Festival regular having competed in the meeting seven times, winning five times including three victories around the cross-country track.

Now 12 and set to retire after the race, the two-time Grand National winner will bid for a final hurrah in front of a full Cheltenham grandstand who would love nothing more than to see him triumph.

Tiger Roll was last victorious in the same contest 12 months ago and has run three times since, coming in fourth in the Betway Bowl, stopping in the Many Clouds Chase and finishing 14th in the Navan Handicap Hurdle in January.

Although age may mean the horse is not the strength of old, Elliott still expects Tiger Roll to set the standard in the latest outing of an exalted career.

“We probably don’t realize how lucky we are to have a horse like him.”

“He didn’t miss too many Cheltenham festivals, did he? he said.

“I think he only missed one. He’s a great horse, he’s part of the team here and he’s been the horse of a lifetime.

“We probably don’t realize how lucky we are to have a horse like him.

“He’s getting older and if he’s what he was in his pomp it’s probably hard to say, but if he can be in 80% of the shape he’s been in the last two years then “He’ll take all the hits. There’s only one place I care about with him and that’s Cheltenham.

“To bring back a horse like him year after year, especially him – he’s a character, he’s a favorite and it was amazing (to see him win last year). If he can go back and win this year, it will be great.”

Elliott thinks soft ground would certainly hamper Tiger Roll’s bid for another race win, but he doesn’t see his winless run as a disadvantage and points to his last performance in the Boyne Hurdle before Cheltenham’s triumph the last year.

“The better the ground, the better his chances – it’s not the same horse on soft ground,” he said.

“I think his run on the last day in the handicap hurdle was as good or bad whichever way you want to see it, like in the Boyne Hurdle last year when everyone said he had no chance [at Cheltenham].

“If the pitch is good, it’s just different there.”

The trainer has another pair of chances in the running in the form of Alpha Des Obeaux and Delta Work, the latter of whom will make his debut on the cross-country course en route to the Grand National at Aintree in April.

“He was very well educated. [over the cross-country course]I was thrilled with him,” Elliott said of Delta Work.

“Having said that, it’s very difficult to win at this course the first time around, but we thought it would be a good place to go with him before the English National and that might make him a bit softer.

“He got shocked at Leopardstown last year and he just hasn’t been the same on the park fences since.

“We said we would school him and see how he was, we got him to school and he was brilliant at Cheltenham.

“The plan is to race there and then to the English National. He’s only nine years old and if he put his mind to it he would be a good replacement for Tiger Roll.”

Will it be another big day for Tiger Roll?

Elsewhere in the race are a quartet of riders owned by JP McManus, including former winner Easysland, who is now with Jonjo O’Neill.

Previously trained in France by David Cottin, Easysland beat Tiger Roll by 17 lengths to win the race in 2020 before finishing 18 lengths behind the same horse last season.

Enda Bolger is responsible for the other three McManus entries, with Prengarde, Shady Operator and Midnight Maestro to represent the race’s most successful trainer.

Richard Bandey directs Diesel D’Allier, another track specialist who has already won the handicap version of the competition twice.

Gray triumphed by just a nose in December’s cross-country event at Prestbury Park, beating Christian Williams’ Potters Corner to the line in a photo-finish.

The latter horse is also heading to the Festival, with Martin Keighley’s Back On The Lash and Mark Bradstock’s Step Back the other British contenders.

The Irish contingent is completed by Brahma Bull by Willie Mullins, Tout Est Permis by Noel Meade, Mitchouka by Jim Dreaper and the duo Plan Of Attack and Poker Party by Henry de Bromhead.

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