THE Grand National is nearly upon us – but one big name will be missing this year.
Tiger Roll will not defend his title for a third time – ending hopes he could join the great Red Rum as the only three-time winner – due to a spat over his weight.
We saw Tiger Roll win again at Cheltenham Festival after looking tired on his run before.
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And though he could still run at the Aintree Festival, the little legend will not be in the biggest race of all.
Why isn't Tiger Roll running in the Grand National?
Ryanair boss and Tiger Roll owner Michael O'Leary withdrew the horse from the Grand National.
The Grand National is a handicap race – meaning horses carry different weights.
The better horses carry more weight, while the horses that aren't so good carry less weight.
O'Leary believes the weight Tiger Roll was assigned to carry – some 7lbs higher than when he won the race in 2019 – was 'patently unfair'.
Tiger Roll was given a mark of 166 meaning he would carry 11st 9lbs if running at Aintree, just a pound below top weight Bristol De Mai.
O'Leary said the weight assigned was 'unjustified and does not reflect the horse's age or form'.
He added: "The handicapper [person who assigns the weights] has decided to rate Tiger Roll on his reputation rather than his form, but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden.
"We therefore regret to announce that Tiger Roll will be removed from the Grand National entries at the forfeit stage."
Has Tiger Roll retired?
The 11-year-old looked back to his best when winning the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
O'Leary's brother Eddie says he could yet run in the Betway Bowl at Aintree, just not the Grand National.
He told the Nick Luck Daily Podcast: "He seemed to jump off with a big smile on his face and as the race went on, he seemed to get better and better.
"Without getting too mad about him, I don't think there's been too many like him.
"Before this race came along, he kind of chucked racing. It was an amazing training performance by Gordon [Elliott] to get him back, and an amazing training performance by all at Cullentra to get him there yesterday in that kind of shape.
"Because he is what he is there are no races for him, and because of the famous handicap mark he has, there are no opportunities to get it down. He doesn't really run on conventional tracks.
"We've absolutely no regrets about taking him out of the National as his rating is just too high.
"We're probably going to have to run him at a park track, we're even considering the Betway Bowl at Aintree.
"The way the horse won [at Cheltenham], retirement is off the table – he's loving life and while he is we'll listen to him."
Who is the favourite for the Grand National?
Cloth Cap is the favourite.
At the time of writing his odds were 9-2 for victory.
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