Gordon Elliott believes Tiger Roll will outdo even Red Rum if he wins his second successive Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
Tiger Roll has a shot at worldwide fame as he bids to become the first back-to-back National winner since the Ginger McCain-trained Red Rum recorded the second of his three wins 45 years ago.
Elliott’s brilliantly adaptable nine-year-old already has claims to being just as remarkable as Red Rum, having bagged four Cheltenham Festival victories over varied distances and disciplines, as well as the 2018 National.
Tiger Roll is arguably in the form of his life, too, shocking even his most ardent supporters by springing a 25-1 surprise in the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle in February, when many assumed he was merely warming up for his big spring targets.
He has since won the Glenfarclas Chase for the second successive year at Cheltenham and Elliott feels another National victory for Tiger Roll would propel him into the pantheon of racing greats.
The County Meath trainer told Sky Sports Racing: “It would be something special if he could do it, because the public have really latched on to him.
“He’s won four times at Cheltenham and an English National – if he did it (again) I think he’d go down as one of the greats.
“The one worry I’d have is the 39 other horses around you. The best horse doesn’t always win the Grand National – that’s the brilliant story to it.
“If he wins two Grand Nationals back to back, he’ll probably have done more than Red Rum did.
“He’s won a four-mile chase (National Hunt Chase), a Triumph Hurdle and cross-country races.
“If he did he’d be a horse that would never be forgotten.”
The National meeting opened with a wet and miserable day on Thursday and Elliott is hoping conditions will improve ahead of the main event on Saturday.
He said: “I wouldn’t like to see it getting heavy for him. I wouldn’t like to see it get into too much of a test.
“He is in great form and we are looking forward to it. The way he won at Cheltenham and in the Boyne Hurdle, he looks like he is better this year than ever. We are very lucky to have him and he is a great horse.
“Every horse in the race has gone up 4lb. I would have preferred it if we hadn’t, but that’s where we are.
“He is a gentleman of a horse, but he is a boy as well – he is not just a child’s pony.
“His form definitely looks better than it has been. This will be his toughest test and it’s the Grand National.
“I’m under no illusions – it is going to be very hard to do it, but it would be a great story.
“We have just tipped away with him and haven’t done anything fancy since Cheltenham.”
While Elliott realises Tiger Roll is on the cusp of something really special, he is keeping a level head.
He added: “The one thing there won’t be is pressure, as whatever happens, happens – it’s the Grand National. We will enjoy the day and see what happens.”
Ladbrokes are predicting Tiger Roll’s popularity could lead to the biggest betting day in the race’s history with an industry figure of £250 million possible.
Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said: “As Tiger Roll looks to emulate Red Rum with back-to-back Grand National wins, he will be the public horse again this Saturday. Other horses expected to capture the public imagination include Joe Farrell, Rathvinden and Tea For Two.
“It is National Betting Day. For one day each year the nation goes for a flutter and this year could be the busiest day we’ve ever known.”
Betfred are fearing the worst if Tiger Roll wins, with the Lincoln at Doncaster last week, the first leg of the ‘spring double’, already won by hot favourite Auxerre.
Spokesman Matt Hulmes said “Tiger Roll is already a substantial loser and after the favourite won the Lincoln last weekend, the first leg of the traditional spring double, we could be on to a hiding.
“Add to that the public latching on to the story, and all those who backed him last year following in again, I estimate he will represent around 15 per cent of all bets taken. Depending on SP, if he was to return at 4-1 we would lose £4-5 million on the race.”