Tiger Roll wins back-to-back Grand Nationals to emulate Red Rum

CNN  — 

Tiger Roll may have been the pre-race favorite at the Grand National but not since 2005 had the favorite won what is arguably the world’s most famous jump race.

Fourteen years later, though, the nine-year-old – the smallest horse in the field – came through with a late burst at Aintree to emulate the legendary Red Rum’s achievement of 45 years ago.

“Hard to put into words,” legendary jockey AP McCoy, who rode more than 4,000 winners, told ITV.

“What an amazing little horse. He has such an amazing heart and has an amazing will to win.”

Tiger Roll waited to make his move before winning the Grand National Saturday.

Not since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 had the same horse won Grand Nationals in back-to-back years and who is to say Tiger Roll can’t make more history next year?

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The 4-1 favorite ridden by Irishman Davy Russell chased down 66-1 outsider Magic of Light with less than two of the 30 fences remaining and ultimately cruised home by roughly three lengths to cap the 4.25-mile race in Liverpool.

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The rally was watched by an estimated global TV audience of 600 million and around 150,000 spectators on site, who perhaps marveled at Tiger Roll’s resilience.

Rathvinden led for a portion of the race but the second favorite at 8-1 ultimately finished third among the 40 starters.

Tiger Roll emulated Red Rum at the Grand National.

According to the Racing Post, Up For Review “suffered a fatal injury” at the first fence and had to be put down for the first death in the running since 2012.

Tiger Roll a ‘tiger’

Russell – who doused water on his winning horse after the victory on a sunny day – had previously described Tiger Roll as a “rock star” and “one in a million.”

Trainer Gordon Elliott delivered even more praise on the gelding.

Becher's Brook is one of the toughest jumps at Aintree racecourse.

“I don’t get upset too often, but I’m emotional today,” said Elliott. “For my whole yard and everyone involved it’s unbelievable. You dream about this.

“He’s named well. He’s a tiger and he knows how to win.”

On completing a potential hat-trick in 2020, Elliott added: “I don’t know about next year.”

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Added winning owner Michael O’Leary, the boss of budget airline Ryanair: “It’s incredible. I thought he had no chance. What a horse. He keeps improving. I just don’t understand him. I”m so thrilled.”

In a poignant moment seconds after crossing the line, Russell paid tribute to his countryman Kieran O’Connor, a former Gaelic footballer who is suffering from bone cancer.

“He’s going through an enormous battle of his life. And just to let him know that we’re thinking of him.

“He played football (at) Cork and he gave his life to sport. He’s a real fan of mine.

“This one’s for Kieran.”