Tidal Bay is the horse that just keeps on giving. At 13-years old, he is now one of the ante-post favourites for the 2014 Crabbies Grand National and based on recent, unrelenting form, he could very well be the horse that defies the odds and makes history.
He was entered in 2013 and received top weight from the BHA Handicapper but was withdrawn just days later due to injury but was entered again for 2014 and the signs are good that he will make the line-up, the ultimate goal of connections.
He has once again been given top weight but many suggest that this is at least 7lbs better than his mark which currently stands at 168.
He has had four runs already this season, wining at Weatherby back in November which he followed up with a fifth place at Haydock in the same month.
He then went on an epic run in the Coral Welsh National in December charing up the home straight to finish in third spot behind the winner Mountainous and second place Hawkes Point, both of whom also have entries into the Aintree Grand National.
It was this performance, that seemed to belie his older age, that encouraged fans to back him for the National and his ante-post odds went from 25/1 to 20/1.
Following that, and just before the weights were announced, he ran at Leopardstown in the Hennessy Gold Cup, renewing his partnership with jockey Ruby Walsh. Another sterling performance followed and so did second place prompting Walsh to say “It was some run in the Welsh National in such a long-distance, testing race but he doesn't look, ride or feel like a 13 year old. It's incredible how sprightly he is.
“He has enough pace to stay reasonably in touch in the National and with the modifications you probably need to stay better now than you ever did.”
At 13 years old he has a tough race ahead of him not least because of the fact that he will have to overcome four major obstacles. Firstly, the last horse to win at 13 was Sergeant Murphy back in 1923. Secondly, the last horse to win carrying top weight was Red Rum back in 1974. Thirdly, only two of the last ten top weighted Grand National Runners have actually made it to the starting line-up and fourth, he looks likely to go off as favourite and only 10 of them have won in the last 100 years.
So history and statistics are stacked against him but with 19 wins and/or places from 26 chase starts and with earnings of over £800K to his name, if any horse can do it, maybe Tidal Bay can.
Result: Unfortunately he couldn't and unseated jockey Sam Twiston-Davies at the Canal Turn on the first circuit of the 2014 Grand National.
Photo Credit | Meteorshoweryn