The Mail on Sunday

A people’s champion like Red Rum

- By Laura Lambert

RACEGOERS were still visiting Red Rum’s grave at Aintree yesterday, rememberin­g the feats of the legendary horse in the 1970s.

Now racing has a ‘people’s horse’ that is alive and very much kicking — and the crowds at Aintree certainly showed their love for this pint-sized powerhouse after his historic win yesterday.

People were sprinting down the tunnel to catch a glimpse of him in the winner’s enclosure.

No one could move on the weighing-room steps as the champion paraded through.

Racing really needs a people’s horse. An equine superstar to cut through all the politics and the negativity. A horse who could show that he jumped for fun and wanted to win. Tiger Roll encapsulat­es all of those things.

Davy Russell summed up his ability to capture people’s hearts afterwards. He told of how people in Ireland who have never even seen a horse still know who Tiger Roll is.

How people pass Tiger Roll’s stable and say ‘hello’ to him like he is a person. How his three-year-old son is positively ‘obsessed’ with the horse. The British public too have been taken by the nine-year-old. From the 29-strong group dressed in tiger outfits to the children sending videos to ITV of them acting out a ‘tiger roll’, this horse has made his way into the public consciousn­ess.

Meanwhile, his groom Louise Dunn — who juggles looking after her two sets of twins with caring for Tiger Roll at Gordon Elliott’s yard in County Meath — was unable to fight back the tears as she hailed the achievemen­ts.

‘I can’t describe how amazing he is,’ she said.

‘He is fantastic, he is a lovely little character, he is so lovable and has such a big heart.

‘I knew he had it in him, it’s just so special, it’s unbelievab­le’.

The only group of people unlikely to have been so enamoured by Tiger Roll’s win were the bookies.

‘This was one of the worst results for bookmakers this century, if not the worst,’ said a spokesman for Betway. ‘The liabilitie­s run into seven figures.’

Attention turned last night to thoughts of a tilt at a third win.

When Russell was asked on the podium whether he would return for a hat-trick bid, you could not hear his answer for all the cheering.

But the punters might not get their wish. Owner Michael O’Leary said he will likely retire this superstar horse if he wins the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham next year.

‘What more would you want?’ he asked.

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