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Grand National hero Tony McCoy has finally won the lot

When Tony McCoy won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award last month, he stated in the aftermath that there was still one glaring omission on his CV.

The perennial champion jockey had never previously won the Welsh National at Chepstow.

This was partly because the meeting always clashes with Kempton's fixture at Christmas which meant McCoy had not actually had that many rides in the race.

But with both meetings originally called off due to the weather, the great man was able to head to Wales full of hope.

He never really had any anxious moments on Jonjo O'Neill's ante-post favourite Synchronised, who drifted out to 5-1 in the betting, and the Midlands National winner added another to his haul.

Of far more gravitas, it meant McCoy now has the full set of Nationals following wins on Belmont King in Scotland, Butler's Cabin in Ireland and famously Don't Push It at Aintree last April.

After a 15-year wait for his first win at Aintree, it would be ironic were McCoy to win two in a row but he himself harbours doubts about the winner's suitability for the unique fences. McCoy said: “I've won the English, Irish and now Welsh Nationals for Jonjo and JP (McManus), so that's very special.

“He took a long time to learn how to jump normal fences and he doesn't jump out at me as a typical National horse. He might take to it, he might not.

“This was the ideal race for him, three miles five furlongs round here on soft ground. I don't know if he has the scope for the Grand National fences, but he did jump better than he has ever done.

“He's achieved his big target — this was his Gold Cup.”

Marsh Warbler fired Brian Ellison into the big time after his victory in the Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle.

Malton-based Ellison has long been considered one of the top trainers in the north, both on the Flat and over jumps, and in Marsh Warbler he may have found the horse to take him to the next level.

“We knew he was a good horse, but when you go down south and take on the big boys you're not sure what will happen,” he said.

“He's done it the hard way and the softer ground is a big plus for him.

“We'll look to the Triumph Hurdle now but if it came up fast, he wouldn't run.”

The conveyor belt of talent at Nicky Henderson's yard was in evidence again as the heavily-backed Minella Class (6-4 favourite) ran away with the 32Red Hurdle at Sandown.

Better known as the Tolworth, the likes of Monsignor and Best Mate once locked horns in the Grade One heat and while it could be stretching it to think he is in that class, it was a nice performance all the same.

“We knew that from his form in Ireland he'd experienced these conditions before. He stayed and quickened up tidily for Barry (Geraghty).

“He'll make a lovely chaser, but that's for another day,” said Henderson.

“I would think he'd go up in trip and if I was to hazard a guess we'd be heading for the Neptune rather than the Supreme. He could take in the Sidney Banks Hurdle at Huntingdon. That would tell us if he stays, but I have no doubt he will.”

Mille Chief oozed class to have his Champion Hurdle odds cut to 33-1 from 50 as he smoothly defied top weight of 11st 12lb for Alan King and Robert Thornton in the 32Red Handicap Hurdle.

King, who indicated he held Mille Chief in higher regard on his homework than his Champion Hurdle winner Katchit, said: “He's getting better all the time with very few runs under his belt. He will go for the totesport Trophy and we'll see after that.

“He's a speed horse really and will be better on better ground.”

Belfast Telegraph


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