McCoy gets Denman date as Walsh ruled out for 10 weeks
EVEN in his finest hour, Tony McCoy remained utterly grounded about his fickle life.
He needed no reminding of its perils, certainly not those that fell yesterday, as his greatest racing friend and the husband of his personal assistant both received grim injury news.
Ruby Walsh will miss up to 10 weeks after the severity of his broken arm was diagnosed in Dublin. Mark Bradburne, meanwhile, cannot consider a return as he awaits further scans on a fractured vertebra. Bradburne -- married to McCoy's long-standing PA, Gee Armytage -- was fitted with a neck-brace in Scotland yesterday.
Ironically, considering the National won by McCoy brought no serious damage to any horse or jockey, Walsh and Bradburne suffered their injuries in hurdle races -- Walsh falling from Celestial Halo at Aintree and Bradburne from Soldiers Tree at Kelso on Sunday.
The Punchestown Festival next week will now proceed without Walsh and the ride on Denman in the Guinness Gold Cup will revert to McCoy. Paul Nicholls, his trainer, confirmed the arrangement after scratching Denman from the Coral Scottish National on Saturday.
Denman was among a wholesale defection by the top weights. Saddest among them was Silver By Nature, owned by Geoff Brown, the St Johnstone chairman, and a strong contender to keep the £200,000 prize on home soil.
The grey chipped a knee bone over the weekend and Lucinda Russell, his Perthshire trainer, described the injury to her best horse as "devastating".
Killyglen now heads the handicap and McCoy is likely to be aboard Theatrical Moment as he and Jonjo O'Neill seek a National double. Bookmakers, scrambling to reshape their ante-post betting, have two Cheltenham winners at the top of the new market.
Poker de Sivola is an intended runner for Ferdy Murphy, who has trained the winner three times since the turn of the century, but Chief Dan George has another option in the Bet365 Gold Cup a week later.
The British Horseracing Authority will review the events that led to Howard Johnson and Paul Murphy replacing declared runners with reserves. Both were open about their intentions, and no rule was broken, but changes to such provisions will now be considered.
This was one of a handful of caveats to a highly successful Aintree. Four horse deaths on the first two days were disturbing but did not justify absurd calls from Animal Aid for the resignation of David Muir, the RSPCA's equine consultant and a man who polices racing with a firm logic apparently beyond the extremists. Muir may call for further revision of drop fences.
The rapidly changing seasons are signified at Newmarket tomorrow, though, when the winter favourite for the Oaks runs in the Feilden Stakes. Timepiece will bid to become a ninth Oaks winner for Henry Cecil since 1985, a time when the Grand National meeting was still climbing off its knees. (© The Times, London)