Grand National Favourite Deflects Praise Ahead of Race
With a record prize fund of £1 million expected to be handed out on Saturday to the winner of the 2014 Grand National at Aintree, bettors would be shocked to hear any rider come into the weekend with air of confidence, or even cockiness, about them. In light of this, you’d forgive trainer Rebecca Curtis for assuming that her horse, Teaforthree, is all but set to claim victory in Saturday’s race.
Curtis is in charge of preparing Teaforthree for the 2014 Grand National; and despite the fact that the horse is the favourite to win on Saturday she is deflecting any undue praise. Curtis told reporters on Tuesday that Teaforthree will need a good deal of luck to go along with his stamina and strength in order to finish first at Aintree.
Long Welsh DroughtBettors are creatures of habit in many cases; and at the very least, most bettors are superstitious about history and trends. Perhaps the luck Curtis speaks of regards the training history of the horse. Teaforthree is a Welsh-trained horse and if he can win, will be the first Welsh-trained horse to win the Grand National in almost 110 years.
The last Welsh-trained horse to claim victory at Aintree was Kirkland in 1905. Similar to many of the current trends impacting racers at the Grand National, Kirkland was a 9-year old horse with a weight of 11st5lb. Back in 1905, Kirkland was a 6/1 favourite to win the Grand National. Entering Tuesday, Teaforthree was bouncing back and forth between 9/1 and 8/1 with bookies.
Connections to the Past
Jockey Nick Scholfield, who rode Teaforthree to a third place finish in the 2013 Grand National, will return in 2014 looking to claim a first place finish. If the duo can manage a win as the favourite, something that hasn’t occurred since 2010, they will put the long Welsh drought to an end.
Teaforthree is trained by Curtis at her stable in Newport, Pembrokeshire. Kirkland, the last Welsh winner, was also trained in Pembrokeshire, at the stable of Edward Thomas in Lawrenny Park. Other Welsh trainers have experienced success at Aintree since 1905, but none of them have trained the horses from stables in Wales.
Trainers Ivor Anthony and Fulke Walwyn have both won the Grand National in the last 109 years, but neither did so with a horse trained in Wales. Both trainers achieved their success with horses trained in stables in England.
Other Welsh Connections in 2014
Teaforthree may be the favourite come Saturday, but he is not the only hope for Wales in breaking its long winless streak at Aintree. One In a Milan will be running Saturday’s big race and is trained by Welshman Evan Williams. As a trainer, Williams has not had a horse finish outside of the top four in the last five years.
Monbeg Dude, who won last year’s Welsh National, is co-owned by Welsh international rugby player Nicky Robinson along with England rugby stars Mike Tindall and James Simpson-Daniel. Mountainous is the winner of this year’s Welsh National and is owned by Dai Walters, Welsh chairman of Ffos racetrack.
The Good with the Bad
Teaforthree is the favourite, and the favourites have performed admirably in recent Grand National races. Two of the last six, and three of the last 10, winners at Aintree have been favourites or joint favourites heading into the big race. With a familiar jockey and a series of near-top finishes, this could be the year that bettors cash in on Teaforthree.
On the downside, the duo faces a long run of poor luck for Welsh horses. On top of that, the last two consecutive Grand Nationals have been won by horses with extremely long odds. Perhaps Teaforthree would be better equipped to end the Welsh drought were he a long shot. Bettors should think carefully before jumping on the bandwagon of this favourite.
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