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Any apprehensions that Tiger Roll’s abilities may perhaps have been diminished by minor leg surgery he recently underwent were quickly dismissed on Sunday when the dual Grand National winner finished a massively encouraging fifth behind stablemate Cracking Smart in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan. Trainer Gordon Elliott has said in advance that he would be pleased if his stable star could “beat one or two” on his overdue return in the 2m5f feature as he had only recommenced cantering at the start of last month after an operation to have a small chip in a joint removed in mid-November.

Nevertheless, he travelled kindly under Keith O’Donoghue after a couple of unhurried early jumps and his devoted fan club were diverting thoughts of him defying marked market weakness in the home straight as he emerged into the picture, much as he had when a shock winner of the race 12 months earlier.

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The ten-year-old got a little fatigued on from two out, justifiably given his lack of work, the heavy ground and ferocious weather conditions, and he lost fourth place near the line. The Pint-sized hero was beaten a total of 14 lengths; the racing picture is much clearer after that race.

Speaking after the race, Elliott insisted; “I’m absolutely delighted with Tiger Roll - Keith (Donoghue) said he cantered to the second-last and just said he blew up. I couldn’t be happier,” Elliott added;” The way he travelled into the race, you’d have to be ecstatic.

“I thought he was going to win at the second-last, but he had a blow then and Keith rode him hands and heels to the line”

On a concluding note Elliott added “I thought there were a lot of pros to be taken out of the race - it is all systems go for Cheltenham Festival and all being well after that he is set to be Grand National runner at Aintree racecourse is the target.

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