Bookmakers are bracing themselves for a plunge on Can't Buy Time for next month's John Smith's Grand National after it emerged Jonjo O'Neill's gelding is the likely mount of Tony McCoy.
McCoy's boss, leading owner JP McManus, has four entries for the world's most famous steeplechase in King Johns Castle, Don't Push It, Arbor Supreme and Can't Buy Time.
Strong recent market support suggested the 14-times champion jockey — who has yet to win the race — would side with the Willie Mullins-trained Arbor Supreme, but news that he will in fact be ridden by Paul Townend has caught punters and bookmakers unawares. McManus' racing manager Frank Berry said: “Paul Townend is probably going to ride Arbor Supreme and we're not certain yet whether AP (McCoy) will ride Don't Push It or Can't Buy Time.
“Nothing is written in stone, but I think Tony will ride one of Jonjo's horses. It is a while away yet but at this stage, it's more than likely Tony will ride Can't Buy Time.”
Coral reacted by cutting Can't Buy Time to 20-1 from 25-1 and spokesman David Stevens said: “It has been suggested that Tony McCoy will be on board Can't Buy Time and punters have been quick to back the horse in the hope the champion will end his Grand National hoodoo.”
Mullins has another leading Grand National contender on his hands in Snowy Morning and totesport have cut him to 20-1 from 25-1, but the trainer was unable to confirm jockey plans for the 2008 third. “All I know is that Paul will ride Arbor Supreme,” Mullins said. Totesport's George Primarolo said: “Arbor Supreme had been very well backed for the National over the past few days, but those who had done so thinking they'd have Tony McCoy on board were barking up the wrong tree.”