A weighty problem - why Tiger Roll will miss the 2021 Grand National

  • Report by Granada Reports Sports Correspondent Mike Hall


Fans of the back-to-back Grand National winner Tiger Roll have had to wait many months for him to overcome injury and the impact of the pandemic to re-find his form.

Now though, a row about weight means he won't be taking part in this year's Aintree race.

Put very simply, Tiger Roll's owners say he has been unfairly treated by the British Horseracing Authority(BHA) so they have withdrawn him from the National.

The steeplechaser won his first National in 2018, just beating Pleasant Company, carrying 10st 13lb, and followed up in the 2019 race, carrying 11st 5lb.

But when the weights for this season’s Grand National on April 10 were unveiled last month, BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood raised Tiger Roll 7lb from the 2019 running - a weight of 11st 9lb.

In a statement, owner Michael O'Leary and his brother said the handicapping had been decided on Tiger Roll's reputation rather than his form.

They went on: ''We have a duty of care to Tiger, and so we will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden especially as he gets older and his form declines.''

Disappointment for thousands of fans as Tiger Roll is withdrawn from the 2021 Grand National Credit: ITV Sport

It is a huge disappointment for the thousands of Tiger Roll fans all over the world who wanted to see him create history with a third Aintree win.

ITV Sport's racing presenter Ed Chamberlain said it was hard to believe Tiger Roll would miss the National over a row about handicapping.

''Such a shame'' - Ed Chamberlain, ITV Sport racing presenter Credit: PA Pictures

It's a very difficult thing to explain to youngsters who love Tiger Roll. Like my kids for example - when they say: ''Why's Tiger Roll not running?'' Well - the owners disagreed with the handicapper over a weight...This was potentially the biggest racing story for decades - it's just such a shame - such a shame.

Ed Chamberlain, ITV Sport racing presenter

The man charged with deciding the weights for this year's race, though, has no regrets.

Martin Greenwood, the BHA handicapper, said he stuck by his decision.

As a racing fan, it IS a shame he's not there. Unfortunately, when I'm doing my job, I've got to look at the facts and evidence before me like I do with any other race and I've got 39 other runners on the day to consider, so I can't get sentimentally involved.

Martin Greenwood, Handicapper, British Horseracing Authority
''I can't get sentimentally involved,'' says the BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood Credit: ITV Granada

But the swish in the tail is that while Tiger Roll will miss this year's main event at Aintree, fans will still see him take part in the Merseyside meeting.

He will run instead in the Betway Bowl on the first day of the three-day festival.

And it's highly unlikely his Grand National glory days are over just yet.

*The 2020 Grand National was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.