Moore declines Cheltenham raid as McCoy bides his time
WHILE the enforced withdrawal of Home Farm is a blow to Irish prospects of landing Saturday's big handicap at Cheltenham, ante-post punters are hoping Tony McCoy opts to ride favourite Colour Squadron.
The record-breaking champion jockey has the choice of three JP McManus-owned runners in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup, with Colour Squadron set to be joined by Cantlow and Tap Night.
McCoy partnered the latter to finish eighth in last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup and is to get off him to ride either Paddy Power runner-up Colour Squadron or recent Newbury scorer Cantlow.
Despite never having won over fences, the former has been a well-supported market leader -- currently 5/1 -- while Cantlow is available around the 8/1 mark.
"It's a tough choice and it is probably going to be between Cantlow and Colour Squadron," explained McCoy.
"You can make good cases for them both. I'll have to decide in the morning before declaration time so I'll speak to the boss and go from there."
Home Farm recorded an unsatisfactory scope yesterday, according to trainer Arthur Moore, who's hoping the six-year-old will have recovered enough to run at Leopardstown over Christmas where he holds an entry in the Paddy Power Chase on December 27.
"It wasn't as clean as I would have liked so we're not going to risk sending him over," said the Naas handler.
"It's disappointing, but we're lucky we had it done. He should be back at Christmas for Leopardstown, hopefully."
Meanwhile, Newmarket trainer Gerard Butler is to appeal the five-year ban handed down to him after being found guilty of giving horses in his care banned anabolic steroids.
The appeal against the severity of the punishment was received by the British Horseracing Authority late yesterday, just before the final official deadline.
The Kildare native admitted all seven charges relating to the use of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, including administering intra-articular injections to four horses himself despite not being a registered veterinary surgeon, with nine of his horses testing positive for the banned substance.
The BHA disciplinary panel accused Butler of "an appalling breach of his duty". If he were to fail in his appeal Butler could have his sentence increased and/or be liable for costs.
"No date for a hearing has yet been set," said a BHA statement. "Butler will remain a disqualified person in the meantime."
It was also announced yesterday that Peter McNeile, Cheltenham's head of sponsorship for Jockey Club Racecourses, who came under fire a month ago for stating that a single blue-chip sponsor outside the betting industry was being sought for three big chases -- the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, William Hill King George VI Chase and Betfair Chase -- had resigned.
Two 'all-weather' fixtures were hit by fog yesterday, with Lingfield abandoned after two races and Kempton calling a halt an hour before the start.