Trainer Gordon Elliott admitted he was disappointed at the cancellation of the Randox Health Grand National – but remains hopeful his dual winner Tiger Roll can bid for a third victory at Aintree Racecourse in 2021.
It was announced on Monday evening by Jockey Club officials that three-day Festival could not go ahead this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Even attempts to run the meeting behind closed doors proved unfeasible, so the world’s greatest steeplechase will not go ahead for the first time since World War II.
Tiger Roll became the first horse since legendary triple star Red Rum in 1973-74 to win the Grand National in back-to-back seasons. And he would have been bidding for an unprecedented third successive victory on April 4.
Elliott – who could also have equalled Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain as the winning-most trainer had he landed a fourth success this year – fully understands the decision that has been taken by the Jockey Club in these exceptional circumstances.
But he still remains disappointed at missing out on the chance of creating history.
The Irish trainer told BBC Radio Four: “It is disappointing, but everyone from Aintree and involved in it has to do what’s right to get everything back on track.
“So listen, we’re all on the one team, you know.
“This is the Grand National, how can you be confident of victory? But we like to have a few runners in the race, and we were really looking forward to it.
“From Rose Paterson, the chairman of Aintree, to everyone underneath her, they all have to make the right decision – and we’ll be backing them up 100 per cent.”
Tiger Roll will be 11 next year and was beaten when favourite at the Cheltenham Festival behind French raider Easysland on his most recent start last week.
Elliott is still hopeful that he can get his Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding back to Aintree in 2021.
He added: “There is every chance of him competing.
“He hasn’t got that many miles on the clock, and we will be training him back for the Grand National again.
“You’re training horses day by day, never mind year by year, so I’ll be taking things day by day – and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge by then.
“He’s in good form and he was all set for the National, but unfortunately we’re only one of 40 horses – and so we’ve just got to keep going.
“All we can do it dream – so you never know what might happen.”