At the time of writing, the 2021 Grand National is still over twelve months away so, frankly, whether or not Tiger Roll will attempt to become the first horse to record a hat-trick in the Aintree marathon in 2021 is anybody’s guess. Of course, Tiger Roll was ante-post favourite, at 8/1 or thereabouts, for the 2020 Grand National prior to its cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic, but can be backed at 20/1 for the 2021 renewal.
Nevertheless, trainer Gordon Elliott has already said that there is ‘every chance’ of Tiger Roll running in the Grand National in 2021. He is, after all, still only a ten-year-old – which means that he will be the same age as recent National winners Pineau De Re, Auroras Encore and Neptune Collonges by the time next April rolls around – and, granted that he has been restricted to just eleven starts in the last three National Hunt seasons, has hardly been overraced.
Of course, owner Michael O’Leary announced, shortly after winning the Grand National for a second time with Tiger Roll, and the third time in all, in 2019, that he would be winding down his Gigginstown House Stud operation over the next four or five years. Even so, Tiger Roll has time on his side so, who knows, he may yet attempt to achieve racing immortality.
In 2019, Tiger Roll made history by becoming the first horse since Red Rum, in 1974, to win the Grand National two years running. Of course, Red Rum went on to complete an unprecedented hat-trick in the world famous steeplechase in 1977 but, before ‘Rummy’, as he was affectionately known, the last horse to win two consecutive Grand Nationals was Reynoldstown in 1936. Before that, Poethlyn won two consecutive renewals of the Grand National, but the first of them, in 1918, came in the so-called ‘War National’, run at Gatwick Racecourse.
Three other horses – Abd-El-Kader in 1850 and 1851, The Colonel in 1869 and 1870 and Manifesto in 1897 and 1899 – have won the Grand National more than once so, including Poethlyn, a total of seven horses have done so. A horse called The Duke won the first two renewals of the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase – the race which later became the Grand National – in 1836 and 1837, but the first ‘official’ running of the Grand National took place in 1839.
The very simple answer to this question is yes they can. A successful racehorse can win a great deal of prize money during its career. But that’s not the end of its ability to make cash for its owners. Once a racehorse has retired, it can go to a stud farm and be even more financially lucrative.
Success follows in the family
When you next check out the form of a horse you fancy backing with the bookmakers, don’t just look at how they got on in their last race or two. Look at the breeding because that is an important part of horse racing. It’s the same in other sports. For example, the England cricket team has Stuart Broad and Johnny Bairstow, both whose fathers also represented cricket. The phrase ‘it’s in the genes’ is one to use here. A successful horse can breed others that will follow in its footsteps and have highly profitable careers.
Most of the horses that enjoy success over the flat only race for a few years before retiring. After winning big races, their stud value will rise. Rather than going on for another year and perhaps tarnishing their reputation, owners can retire them and send them off to the stud farm.
Top stallion on and off the track
Sea the Stars is a prime example of how much money can be made at stud. His career is regarded as one of the most successful stallions ever. Wins came in the 2000 Guineas, the Derby and the Eclipse Stakes. A win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe followed, but it wasn’t a great surprise that he was so successful. Sea the Stars is a half-brother to Galileo who also won the Derby and both are sons of Urban Sea who won the Arc.
With that kind of family history and success on the track, it’s no surprise that there’s a big queue at stud for Sea of Stars. He’s expected to cover (so much nicer than saying ‘have sex with’) at least 100 mares a year.
The owner of the mare currently must pay $150,000 (around £115,000) for this to happen, but if a successful horse is bred, that could turn out to be a fantastic piece of business. His racing career saw Sea the Stars earn just over £4m, so his time at stud is going to raise a considerably higher amount. He could be covering mares for well over a decade!
Tiger on a Roll
It’s not just horses that race over the flat that can go to stud. Tiger Roll has won the last two Grand Nationals. He bids for a historic hat-trick this year. He’s the current 5/1 Grand National favouriteat many of the bookies, who know a thing or two about a horse’s pedigree. If he does win the National again, it’s likely to be the end of his career and he could well head off to stud to make even more money for his owners.
Frankel keeps on delivering
You don’t have to be a winner of the Derby or the Arc to make millions at stud. Frankel bagged just under £3m in a career that saw him win all 14 of his races. His victory in the 2000 Guineas was one of ten Group 1 race wins. Frankel was never tried at the mile and a half distance of the Derby but by the time he retired, had become the horse with the highest ever rating. No wonder a figure of $175,000 (£135,000) can be charged at stud. He’ll make far more money off the track than he ever did on it.
Those fees can increase in time if the resultant racehorses go on to be successful. That’s been the case with Sea the Stars with several classic winners being bred. 2014 saw Taghrooda win the Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The 2016 Derby was won by Harzand whose sire was Sea the Stars, so going to stud and paying to have your mare serviced by Sea the Stars can be well worth it.
Current stars can do the same
A horse such as Anthony van Dyck (who also has Galileo as his sire) who won the 2019 Derby can be expected to head off to the stud farm when retiring and make even more money.
The current favourite for this year’s 2000 Guineas is Pinatubo, just 11/10 at and 6/1 to win the Derby. Unbeaten last year in five races, he was rated the best two-year-old in 25 years. A successful career as a three-year-old would see his stud farm value rocket. So, when you back top horses this year, don’t be surprised if, in a few years, you’ll be backing their offspring at the bookies, too.