McCoy Has Decisions To Make

The Crabbie's Grand National is run on Saturday

Champion Tony McCoy will make a ride choice by Tursday

Champion Tony McCoy will make a ride choice by Thursday

After the pressure cooker of Cheltenham, jump jockeys are looking forward to one of their annual highlights – a more relaxed three-day trip to Liverpool with the Crabbie’s Grand National being run on Saturday. It is the 167th running of the race and offers a stake of £1 million for the first time.

Champion jockey Tony McCoy can write a book on his association with the spectacular race.

He has  won it, been third four times, fallen at the first, third, fourth, Becher’s and the 12th, been unseated, pulled up, been carried out by loose horses when leading he field and remounted, when still allowed, to finish third.  He has had good luck, bad luck and average luck.

He won it at his 15th attempt in 2010 on Don’t Push It.

McCoy is expected to wait until the last moment before deciding which horse to ride in Saturday’s big race, with two plausible winners available to him. Ground conditions and the weather forecast will be key factors as the champion jump jockey chooses between Double Seven and Colbert Station.

JP Mcmanus

JP McManus

Both horses are owned by McCoy’s main employer, JP McManus, whose racing manager, Frank Berry, said the rider was expected to make his decision on Thursday morning “about half an hour before the jockeys have to be declared”.

“Double Seven wouldn’t want a lot of rain,” Berry added. “Colbert Station, any rain wouldn’t matter to him, he’d handle any ground, which Double Seven wouldn’t.”

The betting suggests that McCoy will side with Double Seven, who put together a sequence of wins in Ireland last summer and autumn. He is now a general 25-1 shot, the last of the 33-1 being wiped off the board by Ladbrokes on Monday.

The going description at Aintree earlier this week was  good to soft, good in places, but that may not be the case as we go into the final tree days.

“It’s lovely jumping ground at the moment,” clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said. “There may be the odd shower about on Wednesday and then there’s more rain forecast for Thursday.” Tulloch can water the entire course at short notice if none of the rain should materialise but Thursday may bring as much as 10mm after that day’s racing.

That might nudge McCoy towards Colbert Station, a 28-1 shot, but the jockey would have to forgive the memory of last year’s race, when the horse unseated him before halfway. “It’s a pity we didn’t get more of a run out of him, to see how he would have gone round there,” Berry said.

Berry said the final decision would be “entirely” McCoy’s and that he had “no idea” which way the jockey would jump. However, McCoy is not thought to be considering McManus’s third runner in the race, Lost Glory, who could be ridden by Richie McLernon. “He hasn’t set the world on fire,” Berry said. “It’s hard to fancy him.”

Monbed Dude

Monbeg Dude

Another interesting likely runner will be Monbeg Dude, the horse bought in a boozy haze by a trio of international rugby players and whose jumping has been improved with help from the Queen’s grand-daughter Zara Tindall.

The nine-year-old will be ridden by one National winner and trained by the grandson of another.

Aimed at the Grand National all season, he is around 20-1 fourth favourite with most bookmakers behind market leader Teaforthree (8-1), who finished third last year. Monbeg Dude beat the current Aintree favourite by half a length when winning the Welsh National on heavy ground at Chepstow. He has gone on to win a couple of decent races at Cheltenham, although was well beaten on his latest start at Doncaster on 1 March.

“I think this is one of the best Nationals ever and it’s a hugely competitive race. But he deserves to take his chance and there are 39 others and 30 fences to get in the way,” said trainer Scudamore. “He goes there with a major chance on form, he stays, I hope his jumping is not a problem and he goes on any ground so he ticks a lot of the boxes.”

History shows  the racing-rugby mix can prove a winning combination. The 1979 victor Rubstic was owned by John Douglas, who played for Scotland in the 1960s, while the 1928 winner Tipperary Tim was bred by Irish international John Ryan

One In A Milan is now 40th in the list of entrants and therefore the lowest-weighted horse to be guaranteed a place in the field.

Please note that there will be a final entry stage on Thursday.

There is no clarity at this stage whether the race will be televised on Tellytrack.

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