Keith Donoghue's Blog: Tiger Roll Is Back!

By Keith Donoghue
 |  4 mins
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Keith Donoghue's Blog: Tiger Roll Is Back!

It's an odd feeling walking off the racecourse as happy as I was on Sunday without actually riding a winner. Tiger Roll is back and he gave me a fantastic feel.

Roll on the Cheltenham Festival!

Tiger Roll Is Back

I really couldn't have been happier with Tiger Roll, he showed plenty of spark throughout, and he moved and jumped brilliantly in a very good contest. There was a great atmosphere at Navan on Sunday and it was the perfect starting point for the season.

The fear is always there that horses can lose their form, and it has to be remembered that Tiger Roll has completely gone wayward in the past so there was a bit of anxiety before Sunday about him.

Horses can just decide one day that they're done, and after the injury his work has been quiet enough this year as well, he had only been going through the motions at home really.

It was a big run in the circumstances and I was delighted with him - we can really kick on now.

When you consider how bad conditions were as well, it was a particularly big performance. The wind down the back was up there with the worst I've ever ridden in and it was seriously tough for any horse on the day. It was a proper test.

Tiger Roll doesn't even really have strong form on very testing ground, so Sunday was always going to catch him out.

It was particularly pleasing that he still retained enough ability to be comfortably in the position to try and win his race before two out, but he just flattened late on - something we completely expected him to do.

Once he jumped the second last he had a good blow and just kept going one paced. It was very encouraging how he finished strongly, but he just didn't have the fitness to keep with them from that point onwards.

He's an amazing horse really - it was his first trip away from home in quite a while, but he just arrived at the racecourse and knew his job immediately. As I said, we are just delighted he got to a point in the race where he looked like he was going to win and there's a lot there to build on heading into the Cross Country Chase!

Plenty To Improve Upon

I can't stress enough how much a horse can improve in three weeks. While he'll continue working on his fitness, it's how much Tiger Roll gained mentally is the big thing about yesterday. He really had that spark back in him that he only gets from trips away. He loves the attention of it all and I expect his work to really improve now.

That run was worth three or four pieces of work and it will have really woken him up. He'll head to Cheltenham in the coming days for a school over the cross country fences and he'll be getting sharper and sharper each day.

It looks like Tiger meets his strongest competition yet really with the likes of Easysland, Yanworth & Urgent De Gregaine all in competition, who are all very good and I was particularly impressed with Easysland last time at Cheltenham.

However, after this run now I'm very confident we can win another Cross Country. A few weeks back I wouldn't have been so sure, but we're not far away from seeing the real Tiger Roll in full flight!

Cracking Smart was in my 10 to follow for the season and I was delighted to see him win like that. He didn't take to fences really, so that should do his confidence the world of good. Unfortunately for poor old Cracking though, Sunday was all about the Tiger!

Some Of The Others

Shattered Love ran a really good race on Saturday in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. She's been a bit inconsistent in her career, but she's very talented and that was a step back in the right direction. Hopefully she can come right back to her best form now.

At Gowran Park also on Saturday Saint D'oroux was a devastating winner of a maiden hurdle and looked very strong on the heavy ground. It will be interesting to see how much he can keep on improving.

Sassy Yet Classy was very strong in the finish on Sunday and is a mare who probably wasn't winning out of turn. I rode her to win in April at Cork and she's a good honest mare who tries hard!

The Very Man finished second in a maiden hurdle on Sunday and he's been disappointing for me. At the start of the year I thought he was going to be one of the better novices in the yard, but he's really struggling to win his maiden. Handicaps might bring out more in him, but I really had higher hopes for him than that.

On the face of it Ballyadam was disappointing in the bumper on Sunday. Gordon made no secret before the race on TV how highly he rated this horse, and while we are very disappointed that he was beaten, it's far too early for people to be writing him off. He pulled a bit too hard and the conditions were very tough - he will have learned plenty from that.

Ian's Back Amongst The Winners!

I was delighted for my brother Ian who was back riding winners yesterday in point to points. He had stopped being a jockey a few years back, but over the last few months got the bug back and has been getting himself back in shape. He's based with Gavin Cromwell and it's great to see him doing so well.

Hopefully he can keep on kicking now!

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Keith Donoghue is one of the top National Hunt jockeys in the world, famed for his partnership with Tiger Roll winning two Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festival. Keith also boasts a Grade 1 winner over fences, and is a great writer to boot. Keith covered the day to day of being a jockey in his weekly blog exclusive to Bookmakers.

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