Horse racing: 'Superstar' Tiger Roll emulates Red Rum to win successive Grand Nationals

Davy Russell celebrates on Tiger Roll after winning the race.
Davy Russell celebrates on Tiger Roll after winning the race.PHOTO: REUTERS
Tiger Roll in action during the Grand National.
Tiger Roll in action during the Grand National.PHOTO: REUTERS

AINTREE, United Kingdom (AFP) - Tiger Roll put his name alongside legend Red Rum on Saturday (April 6) winning back to back Grand Nationals in stunning style.

The 4-1 favourite, superbly ridden by Davy Russell, took up the running at the last fence and although 66-1 outsider Magic of Light came back at him the nine-year-old had enough to spare to emulate Red Rum's feat in 1973-74.

The 39-year-old Russell pumped his arms in delight and got a huge hug from trainer Gordon Elliott.

"To win two successive Grand Nationals at my age you could scarcely believe it!" said Russell.

As Russell, who at one point in his career was fired by owner Michael O'Leary, waved his arms in celebration, Elliott, normally unreadable, was sobbing.

"I don't get upset very often... but this is unbelievable" said Elliott, who was winning his third Grand National.

"He is a tiger."

"Last year's win was for Davy's mum who had died, this year it is for my uncle who died," he said.

For O'Leary, it was not about him making history.

"It is not me making history, it is Gordon, Davy and the horse.

"We have a once in a lifetime horse who has given us a twice in a lifetime experience."

The Ryanair chief's brother Eddie, who buys his horses, summed Tiger Roll up simply.

"He is now a superstar."

Two and three quarter lengths behind Tiger Roll, Magic of Light put up a remarkable performance at 66/1 under Paddy Kennedy, lying up with the leaders throughout.

Having had an 11-year career, Kennedy only qualified to take part in the National in February, when he rode his 10th winner over fences.

Despite two terrible errors, including one at the usually forbidding Chair, she was given an assured ride by Kennedy to come close to becoming the first mare to win the National since Nickel Coin in 1951.

Rathvinden had also been prominent throughout under Ruby Walsh and came in third for an Irish 1-2-3, with Walk in the Mill saving English honour by taking fourth.

"It was a lot of fun, just travelled really well jumped for fun," said Walk in the Mill's jockey James Best.

"I did not see Tiger Roll till the last three fences what a horse. What a ride by Davy.

"Great thrill."

Sadly for Rathvinden's trainer Willie Mullins, his Up For Review suffered a fatal injury when he was brought down at the first fence by the fancied Vintage Clouds.

Of the other fancied horses, topweight Anibale Fly made a bad mistake towards the end of the first circuit and ran on to finish fifth, with the 2017 winner One For Arthur sixth.

However, for champion jockey Richard Johnson, there would be no elusive first National, as on a record 21st ride his mount Rock the Kasbah never looked at ease and came to grief early on the second circuit, while last year's runner-up Pleasant Company also fell on the second circuit while looking dangerous.