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Tony McCoy's Irish Grand National exit

By Richard Forristal

All of 18 years after an all-action drive on Toast The Spreece secured AP McCoy his first Irish jumps winner in the Galway Hurdle, the iconic champion seeks to go out on as big a high aboard Cantlow in the Irish Grand National.

For a long time, the Ballybrit handicap held the slightly incongruous distinction of being the most valuable National Hunt race in the land.

It would be fitting, then, should the incredible 19-time title holder's last great hurrah on home soil come in today's Boylesports-sponsored feature, which has finally - and appropriately - regained that mantle with a swelled €275,000 purse.

The Paul Webber-trained Cantlow hasn't won in nine outings since November 2013, and his form figures read F080066P.

However, off a mark of 136, he is 14lbs lower than when beaten 14 lengths in eighth 12 months ago, and four pounds lower than his last winning mark of 140, getting him in off just 10st 6lb.

This has all the hallmarks of a characteristically epic JP McManus-inspired gamble, the market leader trading at as low as 8/1 following his plunge from a high of 25/1.

Katie Walsh will partner one of Gigginstown's useful novices when she gets the leg-up on Sandra Hughes' Thunder And Roses, while Nina Carberry will strive to emulate her famous 2011 victory aboard the firm's Rogue Angel for Mouse Morris.

Los Amigos is fancied to negotiate a popular triumph for Jim Dreaper and Andrew Lynch.

The Dreaper family has a stupendous association with the Irish National, Arkle being one of 10 horses to prevail for the legendary Tom Dreaper, whose son Jim has won it four times, though not since Brown Lad in 1978.

While the Greenogue-based handler has been in resurgent form, Los Amigos' only outing since being scratched from this in 2014 due to lameness was his tenacious defeat of Lion Na Bearnai in January.

That stretched his 100 per cent record over fences at the Meath track to two.

Los Amigos is a sound jumper that has never been out of the frame. That Los Amigos is unexposed means he still has the capacity to defy a mark of 138, and 10st 8lb is a reasonable burden. He will handle ground and can see out the marathon distance, so his claims look solid.

Los Amigos to edge out Cantlow followed by My Murphy, The Job Is Right and Lion Na Bearnai.

McCoy (40), who could retire as early as next Saturday if he wins the Aintree Grand National on Shutthefrontdoor, had a double at Fairyhouse yesterday, winning on Sir Scorpion before lifting the featured €100,000 Ryanair Gold Cup on Gilgamboa.

"He'd probably be a great ride over three miles on soft ground in something like the Lexus at Christmas but sadly it won't be for me," said McCoy, who will retire at the latest at Sandown on April 25 when he is crowned champion jockey for the 20th successive time on the last day of the season.

Belfast Telegraph


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