TIGER Roll, ridden by veteran Davy Russell, held on to claim a dramatic victory in the 171st Grand National at Aintree on Saturday
Gordon Elliott’s eight-year-old landed his third Cheltenham Festival success in the Cross-Country Chase last month, to go with previous victories in the Triumph Hurdle and National Hunt Chase, and was among the market principals for the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Russell cut a confident figure throughout the four-and-a-quarter-mile contest on the 10-1 shot and cruised to the front in the home straight.
But just when he looked to have victory sewn up, the Willie Mullins-trained Pleasant Company, who had been ridden prominently and jumped boldly, came with a late rattle to almost join him on the line.
However, after a brief wait the judge confirmed Tiger Roll the narrow winner.
Bless The Wings, the winner’s stablemate was third, and Anibale Fly was fourth, as Irish runners dominated.
Russell dedicated his victory to leading Flat jockey Pat Smullen, who was diagnosed with a tumour last month.
He told ITV Racing: “I was afraid Tiger Roll wouldn’t take to it as he’s very economical with his jumping. They’ve done a marvellous job with this horse.
“This one is for Pat Smullen. I was speaking to him the other morning and he’s as tough as nails.
“I really don’t know what to say.”
Elliott added: “It’s unbelievable. Tiger Roll is a yard favourite. It’s great for the yard, for Gigginstown (House Stud, owners), for everyone.”
Elliott launched his career when Silver Birch became his first ever winner as a trainer in the 2007 Grand National.