HENNESSY winner Triolo d’Alene will be ridden by AP McCoy in Friday’s Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of the National Hunt Festival.
McCoy, the 18-times champion jockey and twice a Gold Cup winner, switches from the Rebecca Curtis-trained Grand National third Teaforthree to take the ride on Nicky Henderson’s well-backed chaser.
The news is a disappointment for Malton-born Andrew Tinkler, a long-term stalwart of the Henderson yard.
He had been tipped to get the appointment if McCoy had not been released from the ride on Teaforthree.
The one consolation for Tinkler is that he has picked up an eyecatching ride on the Henderson-trained Josses Hill in today’s Festival-opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Tinkler, a much under-estimated rider, has always said that playing ‘second fiddle’ to both Barry Geraghty, and McCoy, can be a frustrating and rewarding experience in equal measure.
However, the McCoy move has seen bookmakers report significant support for Triolo d’Alene which Henderson has compared favourably to his reigning champion Bobs Worth, the current market leader.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Captain Chris will be an absentee from the Gold Cup after a setback. The horse was last in action at Ascot when beating Sue Smith’s Cloudy Too.
Kim Bailey’s Harry Topper, winner of Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, is likely to swerve the blue riband race because of drying conditions.
He could, instead, line up in Saturday’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter. “It’s no secret I need soft ground for my horse this year,” said Bailey whose mudlark Master Oats won the 1995 Gold Cup. “If there is no rain, then Harry Topper will stay at home – Cheltenham dreams start and end with the weather.”