Remember when Soccer AM owned a racehorse?

Teaforthree in the 2013 Grand National
Teaforthree in the 2013 Grand National

We look back on the cult breakfast show’s brief foray into the world of racehorse ownership, and how they unwittingly turned their back on a future star…

Since its inception in 1995, Soccer AM has become an institution of Saturday morning television, with its star-studded, skit-heavy line-up proving a cult hit with fans. 

Third eye gaffes and Claude Makalele-sponsored big tackles may seem a far cry from the world of racing, but the show was still pulling in six-figure viewing figures at the beginning of the decade, and racing executives were keen for a slice of that publicity. 

Racing has never been shy about a left-field PR stunt or two over the years, either - the dodgy guinea pig-heavy promotional video for the 2019 Guineas Weekend published back in April is proof of that - and Racing For Change, an industry body tasked with the mission of broadening the appeal of racing, formed an unlikely partnership with the show for the 2010/11 Jumps season. 

It involved Racing For Change leasing a horse in Soccer AM’s name, and any prize money won would go to the show’s chosen charity, BLESMA (British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association). The horse they recruited for the season was a promising six-year-old staying novice hurdler from the Rebecca Curtis yard called Teaforthree, who looked set for a productive year over timber, having opened his account with victory in a novice contest over three miles just before changing hands at Ffos Las that November. 

Although the show filmed several features with their newest crew member throughout the season, including a riding lesson for the hapless Max Rushen on Curtis' private beach, Teaforthree would race just three times in Soccer AM’s colours, making his first start for his new owners when third under A.P. McCoy in a Grade 2 novice event over three miles at Cheltenham that December. 

Teaforthree was shaping as though he would make up into a better chaser than hurdler in time, but he had seemingly been found a good opportunity to pick up a second career success over hurdles on his next start at Ffos Las in February 2011, and as a result was sent off as the 2/1 favourite for a novice contest over two and a half miles. McCoy was again booked to ride, but the drop back in trip didn't really suit and he ultimately finished second, nine lengths behind 33/1 outsider Maringo Bay. 

He would, however, provide Soccer AM with a runner at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival the following month, and was sent off as an unfancied 28/1 shot for the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, finishing a respectable eighth behind future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, in what would prove to be his final start for the show. 

Winless in Soccer AM's light blue silks, the lease of Teaforthree was ceased at the end of the 2010/11 National Hunt season, and an advert putting him up for sale would soon appear in the Racing Post, despite Curtis’ pleading with his owners to hang on to him:

She said: “He was always going to be a better chaser (than a hurdler), and we did try to persuade them that he would be worth hanging on to.”

Soccer AM would instead partner up with another horse for the 2011-12 season, the Charlie Longsdon-trained Accordintolawrence.

Despite fears she would lose him, Curtis managed to keep hold of Teaforthree via a five-man syndicate, and as promised, he would come into his own as a chaser the following season, capping off a fine novice campaign over fences by winning the 2012 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. 

Teaforthree's career suddenly took off on the back of that Cheltenham success, and he quickly became a serious contender for the following season’s Grand National. He would thrive over the iconic National fences, and produced a fine effort to finish third on his first try around the National Course in the 2013 Grand National, before unseating at The Chair in unfortunate circumstances when backed into 10/1 joint-favouritism for the following year's renewal.

Teaforthree proved himself to be a top staying chaser, and alongside his National exploits, his other notable efforts included finishing second in the 2013 Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, and having a spin in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup to boot.

Meanwhile, Accordintolawrence had eight runs for Soccer AM in the 2011/12 season, winning just once, and in the same month that Teaforthree triumphed at the Cheltenham Festival, he was beaten 61 lengths in a lowly handicap hurdle at Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Oh the power of hindsight.

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