Sunday 18 February 2018

'It always hurts to pick the wrong one in a big race'

Champion jockey reflects on how luck deserted him and weighs up his chances of success from today's card

Jezki, with Barry Geraghty up, left, beat My Tent or Yours, with Tony McCoy up, to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
Jezki, with Barry Geraghty up, left, beat My Tent or Yours, with Tony McCoy up, to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

Tony McCoy

It always hurts a bit to pick the 'wrong one' in a race as big as the Champion Hurdle, and then to make matters worse, it hurts even more when you get beat by the horse you rejected.

However, in my defence and to his credit, My Tent Or Yours pulled way too hard for his own good and must be some horse to have finished second having wasted so much energy throughout the race.

It was a great result for the boss, JP McManus, however, to win it with Jezki and I did tell anyone who wanted to listen that he would be a better horse ridden prominently and not held up as he had been during the winter.

When we get My Tent Or Yours to switch off and relax in his races, though, we will have a serious horse on our hands.

Today is another day. I can't help feeling that is not the first time I've used that expression in this column at Cheltenham over the years.

I have, at best, an each-way chance in the main race today, the Betvictor Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.20).

Kid Cassidy has several claims to fame; he was one of the horses that was electrocuted on that infamous day at Newbury in 2011.

He survived but it probably blighted the early part of his career because he was a bit of a hot-head anyway and understandably it revved him up even more. In a race he looks like he is taking a fearsome tug, but he is not as fast as he thinks he is and if I let him loose, I don't think he would go any faster.

His most relevant claim to fame is that he is the only horse to have beaten Sire De Grugy this season, here at Cheltenham in November. We were getting 10lbs and beat him by 3 and a half lengths. That led to claims that Sire De Grugy does not act at Cheltenham and that may be the case, but I still feel we have it all to do to beat him at levels and to me Gary Moore's horse is still a good thing.

I believe the favourite's biggest danger is Kid Cassidy's stable companion Captain Conan, who will enjoy the ground.

The defection of the reigning champion, Sprinter Sacre, has taken something away from the race but it has opened it up and now we all have a chance.

Cup Final is another with an each-way chance in the Neptune Investment Management Novice Hurdle (1.30). For me Faugheen looks and sounds like a Willie Mullins banker. Of the home team I have been most impressed by David Pipe's Red Sherlock. He battled on well when winning here earlier in the season.

Cup Final has only had two starts this season. He was second to Irving beaten four lengths first time, but cut himself and had to have the thick-end of three months off. That has probably caught up with him now. He was 10 lengths behind Irving at Kempton and we lack a little experience but it is a good race for him.

Carlingford Lough has a good solid chance in the RSA Chase (2.05). Ignore the 'U' last time, we got shoved through a wing when going through a gap. He runs to a good level of form every time and is reliable.

Ballycasey took a very public fall when schooling at Leopardstown recently and you can view that two ways.

I reckon it will have woken him up and taught him to listen to Ruby Walsh, which he was not doing that day. If he did learn a lesson it will stand him in good stead to win this.

The Coral Cup (2.40) is like the lotto. Get Me Out Of Here is a remarkable horse in that he has been second at the Festival three times and though it would be nice to win one finally, he seems to have a lot on his plate today. He's a hard horse to keep right but Jonjo always brings him here in good form and hopefully that's the case today. Dell Arca looks one to keep an eye out for while Dunguib is class and has an each-way chance despite a big weight.

Diamond Harry could go well in the Glenfarclass Cross-Country (4.00) and Balthazar King likes the course but his weight might stop him actually winning.

My best chance, however, comes on Goodwood Mirage in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40). This is the first time a race will have been run to suit him, a strong gallop on good ground. He has plenty going for him and a sensible weight. Dawalan is the danger and, at a decent price, Certification could go well.

In the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.15) Definitely Red looks one of the better bumper horses from Britain. However traditionally the Irish are always strong in this and of the herd of horses which Willie Mullins aims at this race each year, I like Killutagh Vic.

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