PAT HEALY: With Tiger Roll making returning to action this weekend, Pat Healy discusses the recently released Grand National weights and how he thinks the two-time winner will fare.
It’s a great feather in Shane Foley’s cap that he’s going to be part of the International Jockeys’ Challenge at the Saudi Cup. He pushed Colin Keane all the way for the jockeys’ championship in Ireland last season and he’s established himself as one of the top two or three riders over here. If he gets on the right horses then he’ll do himself and Ireland proud. I wish him the best of luck out there.
Shane is one of the best jockeys in Ireland and his success shows just how strong the bunch of Irish jockeys on both the Flat and over Jumps is at the moment. It’s the strongest jockey colony in the world and if you’re in that top-tier then you’ll be able to handle yourself all over the world, as Colin showed on Tarnawa at the Breeders’ Cup.
It’s always been strong over the years and I think that’s because of the grounding both pony racing and Point-to-Points gives the kids. The experience they gain in those spheres really serves them well physically and mentally when it comes to racing under rules. They just know what to do at the right time during races and that’s why we’re seeing the likes of Shane, Colin, Rachael Blackmore and Paul Townend do so well at the moment.
If other countries were looking on how to improve the standard of jockeyship then they’ll do worse than looking at Ireland. Of course, the cream will always rise to the top and those who are most naturally gifted will excel, but not everyone is blessed with that. As such, for those who need to learn and develop in order to be successful, pony racing and the amateur game (for the jumping folk) are the perfect places for riders to do that.
Grand National weights
I’m not a handicapper and I’ll leave that job up to those in the know, but from what I’ve heard people say Tiger Roll got the right weight. We’re all looking forward to seeing him over hurdles at Navan on Sunday and Gordon Elliott has always said that the spring brings the horse into his own. Hopefully he’ll put up a good performance over the weekend and then connections will let him run at Aintree for the Grand National.
We all know what he’s trying to do in targeting three Nationals in a row and it’s a story which gets racing on the front pages. He’s been an amazing horse for connections and based on his win in 2019, you can’t say he won’t go there without a live chance. If he’s 100 per cent he’s a big player and if he’s not in rude health then I’d be pretty sure Gordon wouldn’t run him.
There are some very interesting Irish entries as you look down the list and hopefully if it’s not Tiger Roll then another Irish horse can get his nose in front on the big day. Willie Mullins looks to have a strong contender in Burrows Saint who appears to have been mapped out for the race. He’s won an Irish Grand National and the likes of Bobbyjo and Papillon have shown that’s a formula that works when it comes to Aintree. Others like Anibale Fly, third in the Gold Cup, and The Jam Man, winner of the Troytown, are also worthy of consideration, so all-in-all, we look to hold a pretty strong hand this year.