Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 10:00 21/04/2015
While managing only fifth place on his final ride in the Crabbie's Grand National aboard Shutthefrontdoor two weeks ago, soon-to-be retired champion jockey Tony McCoy will be hoping to go out in a blaze of glory this Saturday by landing the last big handicap chase of the season, Sandown's Bet365 Gold Cup, or the ' Whitbread ' as many still remember this historic staying contest first run in 1957.
National Hunt's greatest ever jockey and multiple record-breaker, McCoy has been successful on two occasions in the extended three mile five furlong test, the first aboard Bounce Back in 2002 before pulling the race out of the fire on arguably one of his greatest rides when winning on Hennessy in 2009 from a seemingly impossible position. Soon to be crowned champion for a record 20th time the man refered to simply as AP was expected to partner one of owner JP McManus's two possible runners but with neither featuring among the 40 horses left in the race at the six-day declaration stage the great man is sure to be in strong demand as connections consider riding plans for the weekend.
One possibility could be 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, due to regular pilot Barry Geraghty being sidelined through injury, described by trainer Nicky Henderson as a definite runner, of which Malcolm Kimmins, syndicate representative, said: " At the moment he's definitely going to run. I don't know at this moment in time who will ride him. I've spoken to Nicky and a lot, I guess, will be what happens behind the scenes. There's obviously a lot of talk about what Tony McCoy is going to ride. I simply don't know the answer to that at the moment. There will no doubt be plenty of discussion going on. I can't say more than that. It's very exciting and is going to be one hell of a day. I'm aware there's an AP factor to it."
The weights are currently headed by the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own on 11st 12lb, who will have to concede Bobs Worth 5lb if allowed to take his chance, while of the four Paul Nicholls' entries Unioniste and Just Par look set to take their chance with the participation of Rocky Creek and Wonderful Charm being left until the final declaration stage. The Package, who narrowly missed out on a place in the Crabbie's Grand National for trainer David Pipe, will attempt to give the stable some compensation on Saturday and is currently available at a general 14-1, four points longer than Le Reve who heads the ante-post market at a standout 10-1 with Ladbrokes.