Ashforth’s Angles: Remarkable Tiger earns his stripes

Tiger Roll (Lisa O’Neill) jumps the last fence

Tiger Roll jumps the last fence on his way to victory at Cheltenham

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

ANOTHER Cheltenham and Fakenham week over. Among the stirring, screaming finishes (mainly at Cheltenham) was an extraordinary, curious victory swamped by more prestigious events.

Tiger Roll, the winner of the 2014 Triumph Hurdle, won the four mile amateur riders’ chase. I bet what’s left of my hair that it’s never been done before. I’m amazed that Tiger Roll managed to.

None of Tiger Roll’s close relatives have ever jumped a hurdle let alone a fence and Tiger Roll, by Authorized out of a dam by Entrepreneur, was bought by Darley as a foal for 70,000 guineas with races other than four mile chases in mind.

Three years later, unraced, Tiger Roll was passed on to Nigel Hawke for £10,000 and after winning a five runner juvenile hurdle at Market Rasen was promptly sold for a generous looking £80,000.

Hawke must have been pleased but two months later, after Tiger Roll’s first run for new trainer Gordon Elliott, bidder Mags O’Toole and owner Gigginstown Stud must have been even more pleased. Plunged into a Grade 1 hurdle, Tiger Roll finished second and a month later won the Triumph Hurdle.

Apart from a less exalted victory at Cheltenham that autumn, things then went awry. Two years after winning the Triumph Hurdle, Tiger Roll made his sole appearance in a Flat race, finishing runner-up in a maiden at Dundalk. A report observed, “he continues to be a bitter disappointment.”

Small for a chaser, Tiger Roll nevertheless perked up over fences, winning three times and running creditably in defeat, including over three miles. That was surprising but a Flat bred Triumph Hurdle winner stepping up to four miles at Cheltenham? Naaah, not even when his official rating gave him a chance.

Tiger Roll’s performance was extraordinary. Fairly keen early on, at no point in the race until the last gasp of the hill was he ever anything other than on the bridle, travelling well. His jumping, which tends to be low, was not always convincing.

The close up notes, “blundered 11th, hit 18th, blundered 20th. At the 11th Lisa O’Neill, who gave Tiger Roll a fine ride, was bounced into the air and at the 18th Tiger Roll wasn’t far off falling. Yet after each mistake he was quickly rolling along again. If his jumping wasn’t always convincing it was generally effective and efficient.


Fakenham fortunes

Before leaving Cheltenham for Fakenham, is there a gutsier hurdler in training than Lil Rockerfeller, who gave his usual all when second in the Stayers’ Hurdle? (The answer is no.)

Meanwhile, when it came to betting, there was a lot to be said for the maiden hurdle at Fakenham on Friday, an eight-runner event with three realistic contenders, including a vulnerable odds-on favourite in Cesar Et Rosalie. Perfect. You back the other two, Hint Of Grey and Capsy De Mee small win, large place on Betfair. It’s an approach I like.

Hint Of Grey won and Capsy De Mee was third. Sometimes you can win during Cheltenham. 


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