Tony McCoy will have one more chance to win a Grand National when he lines up in the Scottish version on Saturday at Ayr but punters keen to back him in one of the year’s biggest betting races will have to wait to find out which horse he will ride.
The multiple champion jockey, who missed out on ending his career on racing’s biggest stage when only fifth in last Saturday’s Aintree Grand National, would be expected to ride the Jonjo O’Neill-trained entry Catching On but that runner is due to carry 10st 3lb and McCoy’s lowest riding weight in the last 12 months is 1lb above that.
McCoy was on board Catching On when his mount went off a hot favourite for the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last month only for the well-backed runner to tip up at the eighth fence, but with Saturday’s top weight, Sam Winner, scheduled to run, and the weights unlikely to rise, McCoy may have to look elsewhere.
McCoy’s agent, Dave Roberts, said his client will be at the Ayr Scottish National two-day meeting but has not yet finalised a ride for the jockey in the feature event. “He’ll definitely be there [on Saturday] but he has no ride in the Scottish National yet,” confirmed Roberts on Monday. “He’s going to Cheltenham on Wednesday and Thursday and then the two days at Ayr.”
The Scottish National is the fifth most popular race with punters behind only the Aintree equivalent, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Derby and the Champion Hurdle and McCoy’s chosen partner is certain to be the subject of a gamble a week before he is scheduled to retire at Sandown.
The sponsors Coral have Catching On joint second-favourite with Indian Castle at 12-1 behind the 10-1 market leader Broadway Buffalo, who was second to Cause Of Causes in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. McCoy steered the 25-1 shot Yes Tom to victory at Ayr on the horse’s penultimate start and the trainer, Stuart Crawford, would be interested in giving him the ride if he became available.
The Co Antrim trainer said: “Looking at the forecast, there’s a bit of rain forecast for the middle of the week and then it’s due to dry up again. As long as the ground is around good or good to soft, we’ll definitely be letting the horse take his chance. We haven’t anything finalised on the jockey front at this stage.
“That [using McCoy] would definitely be an option as he’s won on the horse before, but I’d have to speak to him and his agent to see if he would be interested in the ride. Paul Carberry rode him in the last year, so he’d definitely be a player as well.”
Meetings such as the Scottish National are flourishing but there are issues such as field sizes, the breeding sector and poor prize money at the middle and lower level of the sport blighting the industry and the British Horseracing Authority announced on Monday that a comprehensive review of jumps racing led by the former Cheltenham Festival managing director Edward Gillespie is under way.
Ruth Quinn, director of racing for the BHA, said: “Without an industry functioning properly, from the grassroots up, then the future security and success of the sport at all levels is at risk. This comprehensive, cross-industry review is designed to give us a clear picture about the exact state of health that the industry is in and then implement evidence-based plans to safeguard the future of the sport and ensure that we are maximising all possible opportunities for growth.”
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