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Tony McCoy feeling just grand aboard favourite for Grand National

By Frank Brownlow

Tony McCoy was "very happy" with Crabbie's Grand National favourite Shutthefrontdoor after yesterday's schooling session at Southwell racecourse.

The Ulster great, desperate for a second Grand National success before his imminent retirement, rode the 8-1 shot over eight fences at the Nottinghamshire track.

"We are very happy with the horse and he just needed to get a little excitement," said McCoy, who will next month be crowned champion jockey for an incredible 20th successive time.

The 40-year-old recently claimed that he may retire immediately if he wins the £1million showpiece on April 11, although the season officially ends on April 25, while the Punchestown Festival runs from April 28 to May 2.

McCoy's sole triumph - at his 15th attempt - came on board Don't Push It in 2010, resulting in the Moneyglass rider becoming the only jockey to date to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Shutthefrontdoor had galloped at the track last week and trainer Jonjo O'Neill said: "We thought about taking him to Cheltenham but decided against it. He is not a hard horse to get ready."

Cause Of Causes, trained by Gordon Elliott, would be McCoy's back-up ride in the National.

He has won on five of his nine rides on the O'Neill contender, winner of the 2014 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse under Barry Geraghty, and is yet to be successful in three rides on Cause Of Causes.

Geraghty was ruled out of the ride on joint-third favourite The Druids Nephew - trained by Ulsterman Neil Mulholland - after suffering a hairline leg fracture in a fall from Sailors Warn at Downpatrick's Ulster Grand National meeting on Sunday.

A total of 74 contenders remained for the Aintree Grand National at yesterday's acceptance stage with the weights headed by last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.

Proofreader made a most encouraging debut for Mulholland - now based in Wiltshire - and looks a tempting proposition in the Handicap at Kempton this evening.

The six-year-old son of Authorized has had all manner of issues over the years, when trained by John Gosden, but appears back on the straight and narrow.

Proofreader, who has only had five career starts, had been sidelined since May 2013 when he trotted up over a mile and a quarter at this track in February.

Held up from the outset by Adam Kirby, he arguably arrived too late on the scene and was two lengths in arrears of Puzzle Time at the line.

No matter, that still went down as a fine effort given how long he had been off, with Mulholland, originally from Glenavy, now deciding to step him up a furlong, which will not be a problem.

As long as Mulholland can have a bit of luck with the horse's fitness, Proofreader could have a good season at a decent grade.

KEMPTON: 5.45 Chevise, 6.15 Harley Rebel, 6.45 Amosite, 7.15 Bari, 7.45 City Of Angkor Wat, 8.15 Proofreader (nap)

LINGFIELD: 2.30 Triple Dip, 3.00 El Duque, 3.30 Callac, 4.00 Squire, 4.30 Dishy Guru, 5.00 Shifting Star

NEWTON ABBOT: 2.10 Seven Nation Army, 2.40 Otago Trail, 3.10 Achimota, 3.40 Snowell, 4.10 Ballyegan, 4.40 Sandynow

SOUTHWELL: 2.20 Tijan, 2.50 Blazeofenchantment, 3.20 Patriotic, 4.20 Kerbaaj, 4.20 What Asham, 4.50 Helium

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