Far Too Early To Write Off Tiger Roll

Cheltenham Festival winning jockey Keith Donoghue discusses why it’s far too early to write off Tiger Roll, he chats through his disappointment at the news about Ronald Pump’s injury and he takes a look at the Novices Chase division.

Far Too Early To Write Off Tiger Roll
Far Too Early To Write Off Tiger Roll

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Don't Write Off The Tiger

This wasn't as negative a run as social media would have you believe. I find it crazy to see people talking about retirement as Tiger Roll showed me a lot of old spark and I certainly wouldn't throw in the towel just yet.

The fact is that if you stopped the Boyne Hurdle three out you would be delighted and say that Tiger Roll is back. He has travelled with his old enthusiasm and at times was pulling to go a bit quicker. These are all great signs for Tiger as that shows how well he is in himself.

He simply hated the holding and deep ground, and I could feel it in him at every part of the journey. Tiger Roll has always been a horse who enjoys better ground and Sunday was tough going at Navan.

I heard a few people saying that the ground isn't an excuse as he won a Grand National on heavy ground at Aintree, but they aren't comparable. That Grand National he won was soft or even yielding when you compare it to Sunday!

There is a massive difference between heavy ground at Navan in February, and heavy ground at a racecourse like Aintree in April. Of course I'm not knocking Navan, it's a brilliant track, but heavy at one racecourse is not the same as heavy at another, and there are big differences for whatever reason between Ireland and the UK. I wonder if maybe having a "very heavy" description might help punters in this regard.

His run in November was concerning as he was completely lifeless, but that wasn't the case on Sunday - he just emptied out a bit at the end.

Of course I was somewhat disappointed with his finishing effort, but I know Tiger Roll very well and those conditions just weren't what he wanted. I'm very happy to put a line through it and hope the sun comes out before Cheltenham.

If we get better going at Cheltenham, and the early signs are good for that, I'm hoping everyone will see a different horse. He loves Cheltenham and comes alive at the festival and we can only hope this happens again.

Tiger Roll doesn't owe anything to anybody - he is an absolute legend who has meant so much to myself, and everybody in the yard. If Cheltenham doesn't go to plan then Michael and Eddie O'Leary will no doubt come to a decision.

It's far too early now and he showed enough at Navan to give us all hope anyway. Michael and Eddie absolutely adore Tiger Roll, like we all do, and they'll make the right call for the horse.

It would be very foolish to write Tiger Roll off just yet!

Ronald Pump

I was very sad to hear that Ronald Pump won't make Cheltenham for Matthew Smith and his owners particularly. He gave me a great feel in the Hatton's Grace and it's fair to say that Honeysuckle has backed that up since, as has Beacon Edge!

Everybody connected went into the season with high hopes of taking the Stayers Hurdle after his brilliant run last year, and it's a real pity how it worked out. Matthew is a brilliant trainer and I've doubt he'll have him back in great form when he returns. This is life when you are dealing with horses, but it's never easy to take.

Thankfully it's only a splint, and he should make a full recovery in time no doubt. For those of you that don't know, a splint is kind of similar to shin splints in a human. It's basically a small lump on the side of a horses leg, they just cause pain and can make a horse lame as it hurts when do any work. It's very annoying when it happens because it's such a small thing and the best treatment for it is time.

Ronald Pump is only 8 and he will be back, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit gutted about him, particularly for Matthew Smith who has done an amazing job with him.

Cheltenham Pace Might Suit Abacadabras

I was very impressed with Goshen last weekend and it's very fair to say that the Champion Hurdle is definitely heating up. He has every right now to be a contender after that performance.

I think you'd want to have a cold heart not to be delighted for the Moore's after what happened at Cheltenham last year. That was probably the most unlucky unseat of all time, Jamie had no chance of staying on.

Goshen was very impressive on the day, but I'd be concerned a little bit for him if the ground came up good on the new course. He looks to me like a real stayer and I think soft ground could be key to him. The Moore's will know him a lot better than me obviously though.

The more I look at the Champion Hurdle, the more I think it could suit Abacadabras. There is going to be a ferocious pace and if the ground dries out it will really suit him. Honeysuckle is still the one to beat, but it's far from impossible for our lad to get involved.

While it's hard to know if Abacadabras is quite good enough, the pace will definitely suit him and he's looking a nice each way price as the weeks go on. Let's hope the sun comes out for him and Tiger Roll!

Cheltenham Novice Chasers

With so much to discuss this week I thought it was the ideal time to chat through my thoughts on the novice chases as a few of them are nearly done deals.

We'll get the easier ones out of the way first - I just can't see Monkfish or Envoi Allen beaten.

Both of them are truly excellent horses and there is nothing around to beat them. Envoi Allen is 4/5 and that seems a very big price when you consider the next four in the market probably aren't even going here. Nobody is going to thank me for tipping one up that short though!

The National Hunt Chase is always a great race, but it's a real pity this year the amateur jockeys can't ride here as they add something special to the festival every year. Not having amateurs also adds a completely different dynamic as jockeys like Jamie Codd are nearly worth 10 pounds in a race like that.

I think Galvin will go very well here and there is an argument to be made that his current odds of 4/1 might actually be a bit of value. The next few in the market don't look like running here and the race could properly fall apart.

I've said all year that I think that Galvin is vulnerable to a proper Grade One horse, but I'm not sure if there is one in this unless something like Royale Pagaille shows up.

Royale Pagaille is a horse who I think would be a near certainty in a race like this, but I wouldn't give him much of a chance in a Gold Cup. If he was mine, he'd definitely go to this.

Last up is the Arkle and while this could be the race of the festival, I can't see past Energumene, I think he is a good price all things considered. He has been blowing some good horses out of the water in Ireland and he boasts serious form. I know he jumps a little bit right at times, but that doesn't overly concern me as he looks a bit special.

I know Shishkin is very good, but I think Energumene could be exceptional.

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