Box Office appeal as racing world says McCoy farewell

AP McCoy.
AP McCoy.
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TONY McCoy’s final ride as a jockey is set to be the aptly-named Box Office in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle at a sell-out Sandown on Saturday.

As long as the ground is not considered too quick for the Jonjo O’Neill-trained runner, the legendary pilot will sign off in the famous green and gold silks of owner JP McManus, who McCoy has been so closely associated with for the past 10 years.

Box Office has run at both Cheltenham and Aintree, finishing seventh at both festivals and looking as if the step up to two and a half miles on Saturday will suit.

As yet, the only other definite ride for the soon-to-be 20-times champion jockey is Mr Mole in the race named in his honour, the Bet 365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase.

It was after Mr Mole won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February that McCoy announced this would be his final season in the saddle.

“Whether Box Office runs is a little bit ground dependent, but it is our intention to do so,” said Frank Berry, McManus’s racing manager.

McCoy’s ride in the feature Bet365 Gold Cup – formerly the Whitbread Gold Cup – could rest on whether or not Rocky Creek runs.

With Willie Mullins already stating On His Own is more likely to run at the Punchestown Festival, the defection of Rocky Creek, who is 50-50 to run according to Paul Nicholls, would leave former Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth at the head of the field and prompt a 5lb rise in the weights.

That would mean O’Neill’s Lost Legend carrying 10st 8lb, a weight comfortably within McCoy’s reach.

Ante-post favourite Gleneagles, one of four entries by Aidan O’Brien, tops 34 possibles for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 2 following the latest scratching stage.

The runners still include The Wow Signal from the Malton yard of John Quinn – the Royal Ascot winner looked in fine form during a racecourse gallop at Pontefract recently under big race jockey Frankie Dettori.

Trainer David Simcock has confirmed that Madame Chiang is on schedule to take her seasonal bow in the Betfred Middleton Stakes at York on May 14.

The four-year-old, who raced to glory on British Champions Day last October, was among 25 horses to stand their ground for the Group Two test.

Madame Chiang has previous winning course and distance form, having taken the Musidora Stakes at the corresponding meeting last year.