Tiger Roll will not bid for a historic hat-trick in the 2021 Randox Grand National at Aintree Racecourse after being withdrawn from the race by owners Gigginstown House Stud.
The Gordon Elliott-trained 11-year-old became the first horse since the legendray Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back runnings of the Aintree marathon when triumphing under Davy Russell in 2018 and 2019.
Tiger Roll missed out on the chance to become only the second horse in history after Red Rum to win the world's greatest steeplechase three times when the Aintree showpiece was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic 12 months ago.
He has been among the entries for this year's race since they were first revealed last month, but owner Michael O'Leary and his brother Eddie insisted he would not head back to Aintree on April 10 it they felt he was unfairly treated by the handicapper.
Full list of weights for the 2021 Randox Grand National and more reaction
The British Horseracing Authority's lead chase handicapper Martin Greenwood handed Tiger Roll a mark of 166 when the weights were officially unveiled at Aintree last month
He was due to carry 11st9lb – 1lb off the joint top weights Bristol De Mai, Easysland and Santini – back on Merseyside this year. But ahead of the latest scratchings stage, Gigginstown confirmed that he will not be running in a third Grand National due to what they feel is a "patently unfair" rating.
A spokesperson for the owners said in a statement: "When Tiger Roll won his second Grand National in April 2019 he ran off a rating of 159. He won by just two and a half lengths at the age of nine, having previously won the Boyne Hurdle in Navan and then won the 2019 Cheltenham cross-country race by 22 lengths.
"Two years later, the horse is now 11 years old. He was beaten by 17 lengths in last year's Cheltenham cross-country and by 75 lengths in last month's Boyne Hurdle, so his form over an extended two-year period suggests that he is clearly not as good as he was when he won the National in April 2019.
"Despite this pretty obvious decline, the handicapper has given him a mark of 166, which is 7lb higher than when he won his second Grand National in April 2019. We believe this is patently unfair, unjustified and does not reflect the horse's age or his form over the past two seasons.
"We made clear that if Tiger Roll was rated 'in the 150s' (i.e where he was two years ago), which is what his form and age now warrants, he would be allowed to run in this year's National and go for a historic three in a row.
"However, the handicapper has decided to rate him on his reputation rather than his form – which we fully accept is his prerogative – but we have a duty of care to Tiger, and so we will not ask him to carry an unfair weight burden, especially as he gets older and his form declines.
"We therefore regret to announce that Tiger Roll will be removed from the Grand National entries at Tuesday's forfeit stage.
"We hope he will run next as planned in the cross-country race at Cheltenham, where we hope he will enjoy himself and run well. After that, we will consider his future well-being, which may involve retirement if his handicap mark is not adjusted to more fairly reflect his age and form over the past two seasons.
"We all look forward to this year's Aintree Grand National, which we hope can now proceed without any further speculation over Tiger Roll's participation.
"We fully respect the handicapper's right to determine the Grand National weights as he so chooses, but we respectfully believe that he is mistaken in allocating an unfair and unwarranted weight to Tiger Roll.
"In these circumstances, as we previously advised, Tiger Roll will not run."
Aintree clerk of the course Sulekha Varma expressed her disappointed that Tiger Roll will miss out on his hat-trick bid. And she believes it may be a long time before another horse will be in the position to try and emulate Ginger McCain's Red Rum and win the great race for a third time..
She said: "It is a shame. It would have been fantastic to see the horse go and attempt to win the race three times. I think we may never get the chance again in our lifetimes, but he's been a fabulous horse.
"I'm sorry we won't see him at Aintree this year, but it's for the owners and trainers to do what they feel is right for the horse."
Despite Tiger Roll's absence, Varma still believes that this year's Grand National – which will be run behind-closed-doors – will still be another exciting contest.
She added: "There are so many other stories. It has great horses and it's fantastic we're going to actually run the race this year, having lost it last year. That's hugely exciting."
The news comes amid the storm over his trainer Elliott, who is currently banned from having runners in Britain until the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's full investigation into an image on social media that showed him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops at his County Meath stable is completed.
The IHRB announced that it will consider its investigation into Elliott this Friday.
Three-time Grand National-winning trainer Elliott has been "co-operating fully" with the IHRB since the photograph posted on Twitter over the weekend.
The IHRB published a new statement on its Twitter account, which read: "The Referrals Committee of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board is scheduled to convene on Friday 5th March to hear evidence and consider an investigation relating to Mr. Gordon Elliott (Trainer)."
Meanwhile Cheveley Park Stud have decided to move their horses – including hot Cheltenham Festival favourite Envoi Allen – away from Elliott's yard.
Cheveley Park Stud's spokesman Richard Thompson told Sky Sports Racing: "We've made a decision this morning to move the horses from Gordon's yard.
"We have eight horses (with Elliott), and they'll go to Henry de Bromhead and Willie Mullins. That will be organised by Chris Richardson and the team. Logistics are in place, and we're organising it right now.
"Envoi Allen is going to Henry de Bromhead, Sir Gerhard will go to Willie and Quilixios will go to Henry."