Friday 19 January 2018

Tiara out to spoil AP celebrations

Special Tiara
Special Tiara

Irish hopes in Saturday's bet365 A P McCoy Celebration Chase at Sandown rest with Special Tiara.

Henry de Bromhead's charge put up a magnificent front-running effort in the Champion Chase before weakening into third.

"He's in super form. He ran well there last year so we're hoping for a good run," said de Bromhead.

Paul Nicholls would love to provide Tony McCoy with the perfect send-off as Mr Mole goes for glory. The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old has been called plenty of names in the past, but has won three of his four starts this season, completing the hat-trick in Newbury's Game Spirit Chase in February on the day McCoy made the shock announcement he would be retiring at the end of the season.

Mr Mole disappointed in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but has been carefully prepared by Nicholls since in a bid to ensure he is in the best possible shape to give McCoy a fairytale ending to his incredible career.

"There is nothing I would like more on Saturday than to provide AP McCoy with a winner on his final day in the saddle," Nicholls told Betfair.

"He has already won on Mr Mole several times and I've kept the horse fresh since Cheltenham for the AP McCoy Celebration Chase at Sandown. Just imagine the reception he will get if he comes home in front on Mr Mole in the green and gold colours of his greatest supporter JP McManus.

"He (Mr Mole) worked great on Wednesday morning, but then he always does work great. He's in good shape, he's fresh and well so I'm really looking forward to running him.

"AP got to like him a bit more this year, he's won three good races on him and he's been very progressive. Saturday is a highly-competitive race and it's going to be on quick ground but we're happy with him anyway."

Mr Mole is one of two runners for the master of Ditcheat, with leading novice Vibrato Valtat also in contention. T he grey has won four times during an excellent first season over fences, including the Grade One Henry VIII Novices' Chase at this track.

He was fourth in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham and runner-up in the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree.

Dan Downie, racing manager for the Axom Syndicate, said: "We wouldn't be running him if he hadn't come out of Aintree bouncing. He seems in really good form.

"We don't think he's gone over the top, but you never really know until you run them. He'll be going out in the field in a couple of weeks.

"You can pick holes in a few of the other horses in the race, so we thought it was worth a go. Going right-handed obviously isn't an issue and the ground should be fine."

The once-brilliant Sprinter Sacre appeared a shadow of his former self when pulling up in the Champion Chase at Prestbury Park last month, but trainer Nicky Henderson is keen to give him one more chance to prove the fire still burns bright.

With stable jockey Barry Geraghty still on the sidelines, Sprinter Sacre's regular work rider and Gold Cup winner Nico de Boinville will get on board for the first time in public.

Henderson said: "He's in good form and he looks great. We are very happy with him.

"Nico has had a fantastic year, obviously. He knows the horse backwards. He's ridden him nearly every day for the last three years.

"Barry (Geraghty) will be feeling odd watching him, but there we go. It's hard luck on him."

Press Association

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