Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

McCoy should not have been the first choice to ride Denman

Well, apart from Big Buck’s, yesterday was another tough day at the office but there was some light at the end of the tunnel from the day two bumper as Cue Card's 40/1 shocker meant that one of my training colleagues is set for an embarrassing few minutes on a busy Dublin city centre focal point.

Just to clarify to readers, at a recent Cheltenham preview night in Dublin, Tony Mullins said that he would “bare his arse” on O'Connell Bridge if a four-year-old won the Champion Bumper and while he may have been proved right about the chances of Dermot Weld's Hidden Universe, he overlooked the other four-year-old — as did many others — trained by Colin Tizzard, who not only won, but bolted up.

So, just so it is on the record, I want to state my delight at that bonus, and look forward in anticipation for the announcement of dates and times Tony!

On a more serious note, it is great to be back at the Cheltenham Festival even if I had no runner this year, but obviously Gold Cup day brings back very special memories for me.

Winning one was great, but to go back and win another one with War Of Attrition was just unbelievable.

It's days like this when you really miss the riding side of things and I think I'd be doing my best to get back in the saddle if I had a horse like Kauto Star behind me — there is no passing him.

Yet again this year he was just so impressive in the King George and there is no doubt on the form we have seen this year he is as good as ever, so I think it would be great to see him win a third Gold Cup and it's almost impossible to think he won't.

Denman is the obvious choice to finish second but, to be honest, I am going to leave him out of the first three.

There were a few rumours doing the rounds that he wouldn't be running because the ground is so quick this year. And while that would be a big blow to everyone, if he does I just think he will find it tough going on that ground.

Luck probably hasn't been on their side recently with Denman and I must admit that I don't think anyone who wins a Gold Cup on a horse should be jocked off him — definitely not. Sam Thomas knows the horse better than anyone, he got on well with him and while I appreciate it is hard to leave AP (McCoy) sitting in the weighroom, I still think there has to be some degree of loyalty.

Unfortunately, it is irrelevant now as Sam missed the week after his fall last week, but that is just my view of the situation.

I am going to side with Willie's (Mullins) horse Cooldine to chase Kauto Star home. He looked a proper beast in winning last year's RSA Chase at the meeting and Weapon's Amnesty on Wednesday proved just how vital course form is to have around here.

It would be nice to see Ireland with a good staying chaser capable of running well in these big races and I suppose the fact there is only 11 declared for the Gold Cup is the one downfall of the Ryanair Chase.

Don't get me wrong, there is a big gap between the Queen Mother and the Gold Cup and horses who want 2m4f or 2m5f deserve their chance at Cheltenham, but when War Of Attrition won he was number 24 and it was a lot better race with more runners.

Without the Ryanair, you'd have the likes of Schindlers Hunt and other horses taking their chance in the Gold Cup and at least we'd have more runners.

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