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McCoy targets end of month for return

Tony McCoy has set his sights on being back in the saddle before Cheltenham Trials Day on January 28.

The perennial champion jockey suffered broken ribs when the Nicky Henderson-trained Laudatory fell at Taunton on December 30.

"I was pretty sore for a week -- I spent a week in bed -- but I've improved a lot these last few days. I'm going to see a specialist on Thursday, but I'm improving," said the Antrim native.

"There's so much good racing in the spring, so I just want to make sure I'm 100pc. I don't want to rush back, but I'm definitely improving.

"I'd be hoping I'd be back for the good meeting at Cheltenham. I'm certain I'll be back for then, probably before."

McCoy, meanwhile, has paid tribute to his Grand National winner Don't Push It, whose retirement was confirmed yesterday.

The 12-year-old gelding provided jockey McCoy with his first National success at the 15th attempt, but has signed off from racing after failing to fire on the gallops.

"The last thing we wanted was for something to happen to him, so the decision was pretty easy to make," McCoy explained. "He's emotionally too valuable for something to have happened to him.

"He gave his all, he gave me the greatest day of my racing life. I will always be indebted to Don't Push It."

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill described Don't Push It as "an unbelievable horse," revealing that the horse will spend the rest of his days at owner JP McManus' Martinstown Stud in Limerick, having won eight races in a 29-race career which yielded over £750,000 in prize-money.

Meanwhile, exciting youngster Make Your Mark is likely to have another run at a lower level before connections decide whether he is a possible candidate for the big festivals in the spring.

The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old bolted up on his debut under Rules in a Punchestown bumper in November, and was equally impressive over hurdles at Leopardstown over Christmas.

The Beneficial gelding is prominent in ante-post lists for the staying novice hurdles at Cheltenham in March. Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O'Leary said: "He'll probably go for a winners' race next. We'd rather take a small step than a big one at this stage."

Irish Independent