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Walkover win a Lark for McCoy

By Keith Hamer

Tony McCoy enjoyed the first walk-over of his long and illustrious career on Larks Lad in the Automate Your Strategy With Bet Angel Beginners' Chase at Southwell yesterday.

The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old was left to complete the formality of a trot past the post to collect £2,800 in prize-money for owner Trevor Hemmings after his sole rival was withdrawn after suffering a slight injury.

“It's hard to believe I've had all those winners without any walk-overs. Hopefully, there will be a few more to come,” McCoy said. “I've ridden in a couple of match races, but this is the first walk-over which is nice. I wouldn't get into the trouble I got into on Sunday if there were walk-overs!”

The 16-times champion jump jockey also reflected on the five-day ban he incurred for breaching the new whip rules at Ffos Las on Sunday. He was found to have used his whip once more than the permitted eight times on Jonjo O'Neill's Caddie Master, runner-up in a three-mile handicap hurdle.

“It's become a bit repetitive,” he added. “We've got to keep everybody happy and we're just worried the best horse sometimes isn't winning.

“You've got punters who are not happy and owners not happy and jockeys not happy. We are the ones doing our best and we get punished the most, obviously.

“Every governing body has rules and we've got to try to abide by them.”

lPaul Nicholls believes Mon Parrain has to improve to break the champion trainer's Paddy Power Gold Cup hoodoo.

The five-year-old French import is 8-1 favourite with the sponsors for the big handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday despite having had just two runs over fences in this country.

Nicholls had been concerned about the horse's fitness ahead of such a challenging race and was delighted with Mon Parrain's work alongside Kauto Star and Big Buck's at Exeter last Tuesday.

“He worked great at Exeter. I had been struggling to get him as fit as I would have liked, so that's why we took him there and he worked nicely,” Nicholls said. “He's going to have to improve to win off a mark of 152. It's going to be a hard race to win, but he doesn't know he's favourite.”

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