AP McCoy sure the Grand National is open and shut case
Ulster great AP McCoy has tipped Shutthefrontdoor to win the Crabbie's Grand National, the weights for which have been unveiled at a ceremony in London.
Former Ulster Grand National winner Pineau De Re - who triumphed at Downpatrick in 2013 before winning the Aintree showpiece 12 months later - is also in the shake-up (10st 2lbs), while local trainer Neil Mulholland has The Druid's Nephew (11st) in the £1m spectacular on April 9.
But McCoy, who famously won the great race at the 15th attempt on Don't Push It in 2010, fancies Shutthefrontdoor's chances, despite the horse last year failing to give him a fairytale send-off into retirement.
For much of the near-four-and-a-half-mile trip the pair looked like pulling off one of the greatest endings to a career in sport, but eventually faded into fifth behind Many Clouds, this year's top weight with 11st 10lb and attempting to become the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1974.
McCoy - who has been honoured with a knighthood since his retirement - feels, along with stablemate Holywell, trainer Jonjo O'Neill has two well-handicapped horses.
"There was a lot of fulfilment winning the Grand National. It was winning that which helped me to win the Sports Personality of the Year," said McCoy at yesterday's London launch.
"The Grand National did have an influence on my career, it's the biggest horse race in the world and the most famous, and riders that were better than me like Jonjo, Peter Scudamore and John Francome didn't win it.
"There is no feeling like winning the Grand National. So many millions watch it around the world and as a jockey there is no bigger day to win a horse race.
"If I go down this year's list I think Shutthefrontdoor will run a big race.
"I do like Holywell, too - if he is in the right frame of mind he is a very capable horse. He has not shown it yet this season, but that is the time of year he shows it. He could perform well in it," added McCoy, who signed off at the age of 40 after a 20th successive champion jockey title and a record 4,358 winners.
The Druids Nephew was a faller last year and trainer Mulholland, now based near Bath, said: "He's got 5lb more than last year and I've got to be happy with that. I was hoping the handicapper wouldn't get carried away and give him more than 11 stone.
"He won at the Cheltenham Festival last year and he looked like running a big race at Aintree.
"It's been the plan this year. Last year it was Cheltenham but Aintree is the plan this time."