Nigel Roddis is hoping Teaforthree can banish the pain of a near-miss last year and triumph in the Crabbie’s Grand National.
It was a case of so near yet so far as Nick Scholfield kicked for home jumping the second-last, only for the petrol gauge to stutter into the red and the Rebecca Curtis-trained Teaforthree could only plug on for third behind Auroras Encore.
Part-owner Roddis recalls: “Coming to the second-last fence last year, I thought we were going to win the National, but in time these things fade and we were third in the National, which was fantastic, and hopefully he can run well again.”
He went on: “The National is a unique race and he’s got round once, but it’s just fingers crossed he can do it again. I think he has all the attributes you need for the race, he jumps and stays and seemed to be really enjoying it last year.”
Given that Teaforthree had also hit the bar in the Welsh National, Roddis and his fellow owners David Zeffman, James Conyers and John O’Reilly would have been forgiven if their enthusiasm had dimmed slightly in the face of frustration.
However, excitement has been steadily building for another Merseyside outing, with Teaforthree putting a lacklustre Welsh National reappearance this season well behind him with a fine run at Ascot before tackling the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he is highly likely to assume the mantle of big-race favourite on the day.
A perfectly acceptable eighth in the Cotswolds, Roddis felt the outing had served its purpose in bringing Teaforthree to his peak in time for another National outing.
He said: “It is very exciting, we’re looking forward to it. He came out of Cheltenham in good order and he ran just the type of race I thought he would.
“We know he’s just a shade below that class and that they might go a little bit too quick for him. We always thought they would be passing him in the finish, but some of them took a bit longer than we expected to get past him. He came out well and it’s all systems go for Aintree.
“We took a bit of criticism for running him but he’d only had two races and we didn’t want to go to Aintree without a third. He’s a big, old-fashioned staying chaser and he needs a couple of runs to get into tip-top form. With seven weeks from Ascot to Aintree, we thought he needed another race so we took the chance.”
Roddis is a key figure at Great British Racing as development director and it was his job with forerunner Racing For Change that led to his association with Teaforthree.
He was involved with arranging a lease on the 10-year-old for Sky Sports show Soccer AM back in 2010 and when they opted not to repeat the exercise in 2011, Roddis rallied his friends to keep the gelding in Curtis’ care.
“Teaforthree has been a great fun,” he said. “Finding him with Rebecca and Gearoid (Costello, Curtis’ partner), thinking he was the perfect horse for the Soccer AM link-up but when they decided they wanted to move in another direction, I’d developed an emotional involvement and would rather not see anyone else have him. I gathered together a few friends, we bought him and it’s worked out well.”
Roddis’ emotional connection could lead him to being a wealthier man come 4.30 on Saturday, with the first �1million National in prospect and he is relishing the idea of providing another chapter in the race’s rich history.
“There’s always stories with the National, like the lads who won last year,” he said.
“Obviously JP McManus and Trevor Hemmings have won the race, but I don’t think the bigger owners really buy with a view to the National. They might be looking more at Cheltenham races than Aintree.”
Wherever Teaforthree should finish at Aintree, it has already been a thoroughly memorable year for Roddis, who contested the St Patrick’s Derby at the Cheltenham.
The amateur race over a mile and five furlongs has raised a hefty chunk of money for Cancer Research UK since its inception in 2012 and while he was not disgraced in eighth, Roddis has little inclination to tackle the Aintree fences as anything but an owner.
He said: “It was great fun to take part in the race and we raised a lot of money for Cancer Research UK. I think I personally raised about �25,000 but in total we raised about �150,000 and the race has generated �1million since it was first run. I don’t think a National ride would be likely though – I’d need quite a few more rides first!”Read the rest of the story British Horseracing Authority News Headlines