Tony McCoy trains sights on more winners
Jezki, with Tony McCoy aboard, will prove a major attraction on the first day of the Down Royal Festival this afternoon.
Five line-up for the first session feature, the £50,000 WKD Novice Hurdle, and the contest appears a match between 18 times Champion Jumps jockey McCoy and former Irish Champion Ruby Walsh who renews his association with Paul Nicholls by taking the mount on Caid Du Berlais.
McCoy needs nine winners to hit the magical 4,000 mark and has two mounts today, the other being Dear Boss in the Handicap Hurdle.
And he insisted he will remain in the saddle beyond his approaching 40th birthday with a future career as a trainer a non-runner.
"I honestly don't think I'm cut out to train, that's the top and bottom of it," the Moneyglass man says.
"Riding is hard work and I've given it my all for 25 years, if I trained I'd have to be as obsessive as I have been in the saddle and I don't think I could be.
"I've enjoyed my career but it's been all-consuming. Training jumps horses especially is not easy and while there may be a little more leeway on the Flat it's still very hard work.
"I've said before if a Sheikh or John Magnier wanted to bankroll it I'd think about it but I'm certainly not planning on doing it."
McCoy will partner Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki for the first time and although he has to concede upwards of 8lb to each of his rivals, his rating of 161 suggests he should be capable of doing so.
Flaxen Flare, owned by the race sponsors Joe and Pat Sloan, and now the mount of Davy Russell with regular pilot Davy Condon sidelined, will most definitely be race fit having run a smashing race on the flat at Leopardstown last month when a close seventh and finished runner-up in the Galway Hurdle to Missunited in August but on official ratings is calculated to be 21lbs inferior to the likely odds on favourite.
Jezki should win easily and justify his current short price for next year's Champion Hurdle.
Bryan Cooper, who broke a leg at the track in May comes in for the mount on Que Pasa in the supporting feature, the EBF Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle with Barry Geraghty in action at Weatherby.
The Ken Condon trained Roja Dove, however, could offer the value bet in today's race after impressive wins at Downpatrick and Limerick.
Apache Jack, also owned by the Sloan family from Templepatrick, won a Fairyhouse bumper but had previously ran well to fill third in a decent hurdle race at Leopardstown and could be the one to beat in the opening long distance maiden hurdle.
The majority in the field come from the point to point circuit and Didntitellya owned by the Hunt family and trained by Noel Meade enters calculations likewise the locally trained, Butney Rock, twice second over flights at Perth.
Two of the most interesting runners are making their debut on the course – Express Du Berlais, owned by Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary and winner of a point to point at Loughbrickland in impressive style by 25 lengths and Sizing Coal having the same profile, winning a point from two starts.
This horse set a record when bought for £340,000 in the Fairyhouse sale ring as the most expensive 'store' horse. Leish Oscar, trained at Loughbrickland by Neill McKnight, will appreciate today's distance and could have place prospects.
McCoy partners Dear Boss in the Handicap Hurdle, the JP McManus horse having fallen in his last two starts over fences, making Back To Drumdeel the choice in a complex contest.
Seefood could supply trainer, Dessie Hughes and jockey Paul Townend with a double in the Porter Beginners Chase. Rye Martini, Gold Bullet and the locally owned Mullaghanoe River are making their chasing debuts while the sponsor runs Drawn N Dank following the same team registering success at Punchestown on Wednesday.
Back Off Mate gets the vote to account for Undertheboardwalk and Barneys Oscar in the Handicap Chase. Carnduff held in high regard by Larne trainer, Stuart Crawford could provide the best each way value in the concluding bumper.
Colm Murphy trainer of Quito de La Roque, an entry in tomorrow's feature chase has advised: "He'll probably run at Down Royal on Saturday – if it rains, though if it doesn't he probably won't."
Jim Culloty has also confirmed Lord Windermere will by-pass both his Down Royal engagements on Saturday including the JN Wine Chase and wait for the Hennessy Chase at Newbury.