With the unveiling of the 2014 Crabbies Grand National weights came a massive surge in the betting markets, not least of which was for Teaforthree who has now been installed as the ante-post favourite with most of the leading UK bookmakers.
Having been given a very reasonable 10-12, by the BHA Handicapper Phil Smith, his trainer Rebecca Curtis, has already commented on how happy she is with the weight saying:
“I think that’s a lovely weight for Teaforthree. I’m very happy. He’s got 5lb less than less year so you’d have to be very hopeful.
“I do want to get two runs into him before Aintree so he’ll probably run at Ascot on Saturday and then in something at Cheltenham.”
And while that seems like a perfectly reasonable response from the trainer, it is somewhat worrying that the plans for Teaforthree also include a run at the Cheltenham Festival which, for many horses, is a big ask.
Two big races within the space of 3-4 weeks is not usually the plan for a serious Grand National contender when you especially consider the fact that the has only run once this season.
That was back in December 2013 in the Welsh Grand National where he finished in 9th position and has rested since then, quite possibly in a bid to protect his mark. Now that the weights are out, there is still a chance that he could end up on more weight if Tidal Bay, who heads the table on 11-10, is withdrawn for any reason, at which point Long Run moves up to top weight and the others suitably follow.
Teaforthree is entered into two races at Ascot the first of which is the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Chase. Though declarations have not been finalised, he could possibly face competition from other Grand National entries Hunt Ball, Wayward Prince, Godsmejudge, Burton Port, Hawkes Point and Shakalakaboomboom.
To say that all eyes will be on this race for an insight into the Grand National is an understatement.
The second option is the Betfair Ascot Chase for which Hunt Ball has also received an entry along with Kauto Stone.
Teaforthree has also received an entry into the Cheltenham Gold Cup along with Boston Bob, Bog Warrior and Long Run so ultimately where he will end up and how it will affect his performance has yet to be determined but it would be a big ask to expect a horse to run in both the Gold Cup and the Grand National and although it has been done before, it’s rarely been a successful route to take.