Monday 18 December 2017

McCoy to have Time on his side in National

Tony McCoy partnering Can't Buy Time to victory at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. According to the bookies, the record-breaking jockey will ride the JP McManus-owned gelding in next month's Aintree Grand National. Photo: Getty Images
Tony McCoy partnering Can't Buy Time to victory at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. According to the bookies, the record-breaking jockey will ride the JP McManus-owned gelding in next month's Aintree Grand National. Photo: Getty Images

Thomas Kelly

Bookmakers are bracing themselves for a plunge on Can't Buy Time for next month's Aintree Grand National after it emerged Jonjo O'Neill's gelding is the likely mount of Tony McCoy.

McCoy's boss, leading owner JP McManus, has four entries for the world's most famous steeplechase in King Johns Castle, Don't Push It, Arbor Supreme and Can't Buy Time.

Strong recent market support suggested the 14-time champion jump jockey -- who has yet to win the race -- would side with the Willie Mullins-trained Arbor Supreme, but news that he will in fact be ridden by Paul Townend has caught punters and bookmakers unawares.

McManus' racing manager Frank Berry said: "Paul Townend is probably going to ride Arbor Supreme and we're not certain yet whether AP (McCoy) will ride Don't Push It or Can't Buy Time. Nothing is written in stone, but I think Tony will ride one of Jonjo's horses. It is a while away yet but at this stage, it's more than likely Tony will ride Can't Buy Time."

Coral reacted by cutting Can't Buy Time to 20/1 from 25/1 and spokesman David Stevens said: "It has been suggested that Tony McCoy will be on board Can't Buy Time and punters have been quick to back the horse in the hope the champion will end his Grand National hoodoo."

Mullins has another leading Grand National contender on his hands in Snowy Morning and totesport have cut him to 20/1 from 25/1 following solid support, but the trainer was unable to confirm jockey plans for the 2008 third.

Meanwhile, Aidan Coleman is excited about teaming up with last year's winner Mon Mome.

Liam Treadwell was the lucky jockey on board the Venetia Williams-trained 100/1 chance at Aintree in 2009, while Coleman partnered stablemate Stan and was unshipped at the seventh fence.

Coleman believes he has every chance of making amends 12 months on, especially after steering the 10-year-old into third place behind Imperial Commander in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

"All you can take from Cheltenham is a positive -- third in a Gold Cup, not many horses can do that, and win a Grand National," Coleman said.

"Hopefully, it's all systems go for Aintree now. I'm nice and relaxed about it. I'm going to go out and enjoy it and have a bit of fun like we always do."

Mon Mome is a top-priced 12/1 to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win back-to-back Nationals, although Comply Or Die was second last year after winning in 2008.

The Irish Grand National is first on the agenda next Monday and Tony Martin will wait until later this week before making a final decision on Saddlers Storm's participation in the Powers Whiskey-sponsored showpiece.

The eight-year-old is unbeaten in his last three starts over fences, completing his hat-trick with a hugely impressive display at Navan earlier this month.

That performance elevated him to clear favourite for Monday's feature at Fairyhouse but his trainer is also considering the Scottish equivalent and a trip to the Punchestown festival.

"We've not made a final decision where he's going to run yet," said Martin. "There is the Irish National, the Scottish National and also Punchestown to look at, so we'll make a decision later in the week.


"He's a big horse who seems to be coming of age now and he's really improving. We'll give him a little bit of work on Thursday or Friday and if he comes through that all right we'll probably go to Fairyhouse, but we'll see."

Edward O'Grady's Osana is likely to head to Aintree after his good run in third in the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.

"We had him in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Sunday but he won't run there and the plan would be for him to go to Aintree for the Maghull Novices' Chase over two miles," said O'Grady.

Alaivan, third in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, is likely to head to Punchestown.

Meanwhile, the Turf Club has announced that there will be an 8.30 inspection at Gowran Park today, for the scheduled fixture tomorrow, due to an adverse weather forecast.

The course was reported to be raceable yesterday, when the ground was described as heavy.

Today's meeting at Newcastle must also pass an inspection at 7.30 due to the threat of rain.

Irish Independent

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