In 2020, Gordon Elliott proclaimed Milan Native as his best bet of the Cheltenham Festival. A 20-1 shot at that point, he opened up at 14-1 on course for the Kim Muir, eventually winning at 9-1. Elliott is worth listening to when it comes to the biggest four days in the National Hunt calendar and this year he said this to the Racing Post.
“If the ground is good, around that place he’s just different. He’s getting older, and to say that he is what he was in his pomp is probably hard. If he can turn up at 80 per cent of the form he showed in winning the Cross Country before, he’ll take all the beating.”
Of course, it’s Tiger Roll that Gordon Elliott is referring to. Already a winner at the Cheltenham Festival on five occasions, he would join rarefied air if able to add a sixth in 2022. He had not been in much form ahead of his win in this race in 2021 but the return to Prestbury Park on decent ground in the spring saw him return to form.
Once more this season, he has produced little in a pair of starts but Grade 1 company and then a handicap hurdle were never going to be anymore than stepping stones to this bigger target in March. This is the race that has been ringed in the calendar all season so a different Tiger Roll is expected.
As alluded to in Elliott’s quote, the ground will be the most important factor once more. Granted a sound surface, even at the age of twelve, Tiger Roll is going to take a fair bit of stopping in a race that is lacking in any great depth.
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