Such was the impressive nature of Tea For Two’s win over a competitive field for the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton, coming by 16 lengths to give the six-year-old a third win over the small obstacles in four starts, that Ladbrokes installed the Jane Williams-trained gelding for the Cheltenham Festival’s marquee race for staying hurdlers.
Installed at 20/1 for the Ladbroke World Hurdle at Prestbury Park in March, Tea For Two looks to have an intriguing chance of shaking things up at the Festival, or at least he would if his trainer shared the same enthusiasm for jumps racing’s premier meeting as the rest of the sport.
Williams has never had a Festival winner and openly admitted a distaste for the course when speaking after Tea For Two’s win, which was piloted by her daughter Lizzie Kelly.
“I would prefer to duck out of the Cheltenham Festival. It’s not my racecourse, really, I think it’s very fast,” Williams said, while not completely ruling out a World Hurdle entry.
“In something like the World Hurdle, you haven’t got to cope with the hustle and bustle of a huge field. I’ve got lots of options and I’m quite an academic person, so I just go round and think about all the options and I wouldn’t like to make a call at the moment.”
One avenue for Williams is a spring-time trip to France, where the prize money is lucrative and the going safer than the battlefield that is the famous Cheltenham track. Either way the trainer has until Wednesday to make up her mind.
Her horse’s continued improvement in each outing could force Williams’ hand in that decision, having seen her charge romp home on his Class 1 debut following considerable performances at Class 4 level.
The likes of More Of That, Hurricane Fly, Annie Power and Rock On Ruby all loom imposingly over the World Hurdle’s ante-post betting currently, but should Tea For Two remain in that list come March there could be worse each-way bets in the field.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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