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McCoy aiming to go out in a blaze of glory in Scotland

By Frank Brownlow

Tony McCoy is aiming to go out in a blaze of glory in Scotland with a big-race win on Sea Lord - but the soon-to-retire Ulsterman still hasn't given up hope of a final ride in the Scottish Grand National.

McCoy had been due to ride Benvolio for champion trainer Paul Nicholls but the horse was declared a non runner because of the firm going.

But the 40-year-old - who will retire next Saturday at Sandown when crowned champion jockey for the 20th successive time - can still bring the house down with victory on Sea Lord in the £100,000 Scottish Champion Hurdle.

"Sadly, Benvolio was really the only (available) one I could do the weight on," explained McCoy, who could yet pick up a spare ride if any of the other jockeys are ruled out of the £210,000 showpiece.

"I didn't know how it was going to work out when I announced my retirement but the reception I've had everywhere has been very nice."

McCoy delighted the crowd on the opening day of the Scottish Grand National Festival with victory on Capard King in the Abbott Novices Handicap Hurdle.

Apart from Sea Lord, McCoy is also booked to ride Upsilon Bleu and Lettheriverrundry.

As for the feature, Larne trainer Stuart Crawford is double handed courtesy of Yes Tom and Man With Van, both having each way chances.

But Indian Castle just gets the vote.

Ian Williams' seven-year-old ran a blinder at the Cheltenham Festival.

Indian Castle finished fourth behind Ulsterman Neil Mulholland's The Druids Nephew in the three-mile-one-furlong handicap chase which is invariably a useful showcase for progressive stayers.

He might also have finished third, too, had he not been pinched for room by Pendra along the run-in.

The horse that did occupy that position was Gallant Oscar, who is shorter in the Scottish National betting than Indian Castle, though admittedly better treated at the weights.

In any event, his run at the Festival was by far his best effort since having transferred to Williams from Donald McCain, for whom he archived some sound novice form against some very good horses.

It also undermined the once-held assumption he needs a quagmire to be fully effective.

Whether he gets the trip is open to debate, but most of his rivals are in the same boat, with everything he has previously achieved on a racecourse suggesting he could be tailor-made to go the distance.

But the big race would be all the better for McCoy's presence, although the Ulster racing legend can be expected to give punters plenty to cheer one way or another.

Belfast Telegraph


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