Dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll remains on course for the Cheltenham Festival despite finishing a tailed-off last of six runners behind Beacon Edge in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
A surprise winner of this Grade Two contest two years ago before going on to seal his second success at Aintree a couple of months later, Tiger Roll returned to Navan on a recovery mission following a disappointing start to his season around Cheltenham’s cross-country course.
However, while the 11-year-old travelled strongly for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey under Keith Donoghue, he weakened out of contention early in the home straight and finished some 48 lengths behind the fifth placed Decor Irlandais.
Trainer Gordon Elliott was not too disappointed as he felt conditions were against his runner, who is now set to head for the Glenfarclas Chase at the Festival next month.
Elliott said: “Keith said he travelled well to the third last, in horrible ground, and just got tired.
“It’s still all systems go for Cheltenham. Keith said he was happy with him, but he just got tired in the ground. He’ll be OK.
“Of course you want him to run better, but he hated that ground.”
At the business end of proceedings, it was the other two Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners who fought out the finish.
Tiger Roll’s stablemate Fury Road was the 11-8 favourite in the hands of Jack Kennedy and cut out much of the running before being joined by the Noel Meade-trained Beacon Edge (15-8) and Sean Flanagan after the final obstacle.
No quarter was given by either horse or jockey after the final flight, but it was Beacon Edge who pushed ahead where it mattered to prevail by a neck.
Meade said of the winner: “He had a colic at Christmas and he spent nearly a week in Kildare. Even though we thought he was at the time, he just wasn’t himself on his last run at Naas.
“He’s a fair horse. I wondered about him getting the trip, but he stays.
“Michael (O’Leary, owner) had it in his head that he’d go to Liverpool (Aintree) for the two-and-a-half-mile race (Aintree Hurdle), but he is in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. We have Diol Ker for that as well and we’ll see what turns up in it.”