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McCoy reveals top Festival tips

By Damien Donnelly

Racing legend AP McCoy was in Cookstown on Wednesday night to give a few pointers about his rides at next week's Cheltenham Festival.

The Glenavon Hotel in the Tyrone town hosted an evening dedicated to jump racing's glamour meeting that runs from next Tuesday through until Friday.

Ulsterman McCoy – about to clinch his 18th successive champion jockey title – was booked for a Glenavon panel that included trainer John 'Shark' Hanlon as well as jockeys Danny Mullins and Andy McNamara who harbour Festival hopes of their own.

Comperes for the evening were Pamela Ballantine and Adrian Logan who kept the banter flowing along at a steady gallop from start to finish.

Racing fans turned up in big numbers to listen in for any nuggets of wisdom and some clues as to what might triumph at the famous meeting next week.

McCoy has been busy combining regular race riding with Festival preview and press engagements but was delighted to be back in Northern Ireland less than a week before the big one.

Plenty of talk on the hectic preview circuit has centred on the Nicky Henderson-trained and JP McManus-owned My Tent Or Yours, a horse McCoy will ride in Tuesday's traditional Festival opener, the Supreme Novices.

"My Tent Or Yours is a lovely looking horse and proved a pretty good winner at Newbury in the Betfair Hurdle," said McCoy.

"He has a high rating for a young horse that makes him not far off Champion Hurdle class and hopefully he can prove hard to beat.

"He has coped well with soft ground but is a happier horse on better ground.

"Good horses tend to go on any ground.

"It's a hot race with plenty of talented contenders but I would not swap My Tent Or Yours for any other',' stressed McCoy.

The rest of the week sees the 38-year-old aboard some promising and progressive types alongside several more established campaigners like Albertas Run who is already a three-times Festival winner.

"Albertas is 12 now but he's a real battler and gives his all," commented the champion jockey.

"At Fishers Cross is another tough horse that goes for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle and I hope he can handle better ground as he has been winning in testing conditions this winter.

"Binocular is one of a few runners trying to regain the Champion Hurdle crown.

"Hurricane Fly is the favourite and Zarkander ran on really well last year behind Rock On Ruby but Binocular is very good when on his game and I'm looking forward to partnering him," stated McCoy.

"We have Taquin Du Seuil in the Neptune Hurdle and he goes there in graded winning form."

And McCoy revealed his friend and rival Ruby Walsh has been giving him a few pointers.

"Ruby thinks Point Alexandre could be another Denman but Taquin Du Seuil should run well," reasoned McCoy who is 6-1 to be top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival.

McCoy should be aboard Sunnyhillboy in the Gold Cup, and he feels the horse has an each-way chance.

Apart from his own mounts, he also likes Buddy Bolero in the National Hunt Chase, Dynaste in the RSA Chase and Overturn in the Arkle, so roll on next week!

McCoy arrived in Cookstown last night straight from Fontwell Racecourse in Sussex, where he had won the opener on the Henderson-trained Heronry.

McCoy admitted evens favourite Heronry was hardly one of the elite performers at Henderson's star-studded stable, but that he would stand out for most smaller trainers as he extended his sequence to three wins from five starts when never seriously challenged in the Docker Hughes Memorial Novices Hurdle.

"He jumped well, stays well and has obviously progressed since his last win at Sandown," McCoy said.

"He might not be the best horse at Seven Barrows, but he's genuine and will give his owners a lot of fun."

Belfast Telegraph


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