Sport Horse Racing

Monday 19 February 2018

McCoy struggling to separate McManus's National hopefuls

Big Fella Thanks jumps the last to win at Exeter yesterday. Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images
Big Fella Thanks jumps the last to win at Exeter yesterday. Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Tom Peacock

Tony McCoy admits he would be torn between Shutthefrontdoor and Carlingford Lough were he to ride in this year's Crabbie's Grand National on Saturday week.

Shutthefrontdoor was the 20-times champion's final mount over the daunting Aintree fences a year ago and provided him with an enjoyable spin around, eventually fading to finish fifth behind Many Clouds for trainer Jonjo O'Neill.

Owner J P McManus, to whom McCoy was the retained rider, is also set to run the John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough, who recently finished fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

"I don't know what I would ride," McCoy said yesterday. "I don't know if Shutthefrontdoor really stayed last year or whether he got tired after having not run for a long time and was a bit fresh. There's a little worry about that.

"Carlingford Lough looks like all he does is stay and a flatter track will definitely help him at Aintree.

"I think Carlingford Lough might be the classiest of the lot of them but I always said for years that I would never, ever, not ride one of Jonjo's in a long-distance chase if it was fancied, no matter what the horse, because he has an unbelievably good record in those races.

"If Jonjo said ride Shutthefrontdoor, I'd ride. He has probably had a better preparation this year - he was a bit disappointing at Newbury but had problems with his feet."

McCoy maintains a close association with McManus but insists he is in the dark as to which his successor Barry Geraghty would choose. "He might not even ride either - I don't think he knows."

He was also in two minds about another O'Neill runner, Holywell. "I think he's well handicapped, he loves this time of year, loves the drying ground and ran his best race for a long time at Cheltenham," he said. "He's a small horse, you don't know how he'd take to it, that's the worry."

The jockey-turned pundit was speaking at an event promoting the coverage of around 10 hours that Channel 4 will devote to the race. He added: "Many Clouds deserves to be favourite but it looks the classiest Grand National for a while." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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