If for no other reason than his name, Tom Taaffe's Treacle seems sure to garner plenty of support when he takes his chance at Aintree on April 14 in the John Smith's Grand National, a contest that will be the eyes of the world media and grant many hacks limitless opportunities to use his name to write entertaining headlines, writes Elliot Slater.
There's more to Treacle though than just a name that makes you chuckle, and the recent form of the 11-year-old has proved enough for leading Irish jockey Andrew Lynch to nail his colours to the mast of the Tom Taaffe-trained gelding and confirm that he will renew his association with the horse he partnered into a brave second place behind Cross Appeal (received 4lbs) in the 26-runner Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown's showcase Christmas meeting. Those betting on Grand National action will be wondering if he can go one further.
Three seasons ago it looked very much as if Treacle might establish himself at the top of the staying tree in Ireland after he bravely outpointed Dashing George by a neck to win the valuable Ladbrokes.com Munster National Handicap Chase, but he showed next to no form in his four subsequent outings over the following two seasons and only this term has begun to deliver on the promise he had hinted at so long ago.
Without doubt Taaffe's gelding put up the best effort of his career on his most recent run when a surprising third to Quel Esprit in the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, a contest in which he was sent off an unconsidered 33/1 chance before he silenced the doubters by staying on well to produce a highly creditable performance in the top grade and those with a Grand National free bet cannot rule him out.
Now a top priced 20/1 for the John Smith's Grand National and with Lynch booked to take the mount, it would not surprise to see Treacle gaining more support in the days leading up to the outstanding international sporting occasion.