Although Tiger Roll is very much ‘on a roll’ after two successive victories in the Grand National, this year’s race is far from a sure thing. Although the defending champion is the favourite for the famous race among those who bet on Aintree horse racing, there is a long list of challengers eager to usurp Tiger Roll and claim a memorable win of their own.
One of these pretenders to the Grand National throne is Any Second Now, currently the third-favourite behind the aforementioned Tiger Roll and second-favourite Burrows Saint. The Ted Walsh-trained horse enjoyed a solid win in the WhatOddsPaddy? Chase at Naas recently, giving a spirited performance to encourage those who may be thinking about taking a punt on him for the Aintree showpiece in April.
“He travelled well and jumped well,” Walsh remarked after the Naas triumph, “and if he runs as well as Seabass (at Aintree), I’ll be delighted. It’s a good prep for Aintree. Whether he’s good enough or not, only time will tell. He’s going there in a good frame of mind and he gets the trip. If you’re not in you can’t win!”
The manner of the victory will have pleased Walsh no end, as Any Second Now trailed Cadmium – the winner of the race last year – for much of the proceedings before forging a lead with the finish-line in sight. It was a performance that demonstrated the character of both the horse and jockey Mark Walsh, and one that will stand him in good stead for the tough test of the Grand National.
It’s natural for a trainer to play down his horse’s chances ahead of such a big occasion as the Grand National, but deep down those around Any Second Now must be confident of causing a stir at Aintree on April 4th. The win at Naas comes at a good time, with momentum key in terms of confidence and physical performance.
He faces a stern test to overthrow Tiger Roll, the bookies’ favourite to make it an unprecedented third Grand National triumph in a row. Gordon Elliott’s prized horse became the first to win it twice on the trot since the famous Red Rum in the 1970s, but to make it three on the spin would be to ascend to a level never seen before in Grand National racing.
The hope for challengers like Any Second Now is that the injuries that have plagued Tiger Roll will render the favourite less domineering than prior Grand Nationals. Trainer Elliott was delighted he was able to return to action in advance of this year’s race.
“It’s great news and hopefully we can get him to Aintree in one piece now,” he said after it was confirmed that Tiger Roll would take part in the Grand National. “This is about Tiger Roll and nothing else. He’s the horse of a lifetime and he’s now the people’s horse.”
There is a big target on Tiger Roll’s back though. Success breeds jealousy, and there will be plenty of trainers and jockeys hoping to steal his thunder come April 4th. For Any Second Now, this could be the chance to etch his name into horse racing folklore with a win at the sport’s showpiece occasion.