Moore and McCoy defy all the odds
NIL desperandum -- so long, that is, as you have men like Tony McCoy and Ryan Moore riding for your cause.
Yesterday, both found themselves facing similarly steep odds, albeit on very different animals, in very different theatres. But each produced a vintage response to pull the race out of the fire.
Moore had the advantage of riding one of the most accomplished Flat horses on the planet in Presvis, making his first appearance since Royal Ascot in a Group Two race at Meydan.
By last summer, Presvis seemed badly in need of a break following consecutive, punishing -- if lucrative -- campaigns overseas. He looked right back to his best, however, in winning at the Dubai International Carnival for the third year running.
As has happened so often in the past, he soon found himself with an enormous amount of ground to retrieve, dropped in from a wide draw and detached from the rest of the field by perhaps four lengths.
Moore reliably kept his cool, however, and weaved his mount through the field on the bridle to burst clear in the final furlong.
Best of the rest -- to the immense credit of his enterprising young trainer, Roger Teal -- was the pride of Epsom, Steele Tango. Luca Cumani will now aim Presvis at the Dubai Duty Free Stakes over the same course and distance on World Cup night.
McCoy had a rather more obdurate escort, as befits a mediocre handicap chase at Warwick. Even so, while it is all very easy with hindsight, it does seem as though some people will never learn.
For if McCoy has proved anything over the past 15 years, it is that you should not write off his chances even if his horse becomes trapped in drying concrete.
Merely to see Folie A Deux tailing off leaving the back straight proved hopelessly inadequate grounds to assume the game was up.
Some incorrigible exchange punters, however, got it into their heads to lay the 9/4 favourite at the maximum in-running odds, Betfair later reporting £142 laid at 999/1.
It was not long before this ceased to look a terribly smart idea. The hapless opportunists watched in horror as McCoy's trademark perseverance gradually prompted a renewal of interest in Folie A Deux and, as they closed painfully on the other five toiling runners between the last two fences, there could suddenly be only one outcome.
Sure enough, Folie A Deux stayed on inexorably to wear down Earl Grez in the final strides.
Meanwhile, the Noel Meade-trained Realt Dubh is among 10 Irish entries for the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham. The seven-year-old will be seeking a Grade One hat-trick after seeing off the Paul Nolan-trained Noble Prince to win both the Bord Na Mona With Nature Novices' Chase and the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novices' Chase.
Willie Mullins has engaged Mikael d'Haguenet, as well as Quel Esprit, Blazing Tempo and Morning Supreme.
Finian's Rainbow heads Nicky Henderson's five-strong team for the Grade One race as the Seven Barrows trainer bids to win Cheltenham's two-mile novice chase championship for a fourth time.
Ghizao is one of three entries by trainer Paul Nicholls, who has two Arkle successes to his credit, along with Robinson Collonges and Pepe Simo. Surrey trainer Alan Fleming has an interesting entry in classy hurdler Starluck, which has yet to jump a fence in public and was last seen finishing third to Binocular in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Charles Byrnes has confirmed it is "more than likely" that stable star Solwhit will bypass the Cheltenham Festival in favour of a trip to Aintree in April.
The seven-year-old had to settle for second to Hurricane Fly for the third successive time in last Sunday's Irish Champion Hurdle, and Byrnes sees little point in letting his charge line up in the English equivalent. (© Independent News Service)