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Colm close to Coolmore post

Colm O'Donoghue is the new favourite to become Coolmore's number one jockey after Christophe Soumillon ruled himself out of the job.

The Belgian-born rider had been all the rage for the coveted post vacated by Johnny Murtagh, but has now signed a new deal to ride for the Wildenstein family in France.

O'Donoghue has been based with Coolmore's principal trainer Aidan O'Brien for 13 years and bookies believe he is the most likely candidate to step up and take the top role, making him the 2-1 favourite.

With Murtagh signing up to become the new retained rider for the Aga Khan's Irish-trained horses, of which John Oxx trains 90, Oxx's stable jockey Fran Berry has effectively found himself out of a job. He is second-favourite to effectively swap seats with Murtagh at 5-1.

“Colm O'Donoghue is the likeliest appointment. But it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Ballydoyle instead choose to use the best jockey available, which could lead to a lot of jostling among the upper ranks,” said a racing source.

Champion jockey Tony McCoy had three second places at Market Rasen yesterday before finishing on a happy note when Foxesbow (3-1) landed the concluding PHS Group Handicap Chase for Jonjo O'Neill.

Black Apalachi will return in early 2011 with the aim of going one place better in the John Smith's Grand National.

Trained by Dessie Hughes and owned by Gerard Burke, Black Apalachi put up a heroic performance at Aintree last April, racing at the head of affairs throughout and only being overtaken by Don't Push It — ridden by McCoy — at the final fence.

Black Apalachi had failed to complete the course in the 2008 and 2009 renewals.

“He just went back into training last week after spending the summer with us,” reported Burke. “He looks stronger than he did last year and even though he is nearly 12, he acts like a two-year-old.

“We did a bit of roadwork with him but he obviously won't be back for a while.

“I would say we will follow a similar plan to last season, with one or two hurdle races early next year followed by the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse. Then hopefully we can come back for another try at Aintree.”

Meanwhile, following an inspection of the inside course at Fairyhouse, the meeting scheduled for December 2 has been cancelled. The fixtures on November 27 and November 28 will be run on the main course and are unaffected.

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