McCoy closing on welcome return

Champion jockey Tony McCoy shows his discomfort after riding his 150th Winner at Wetherby last month.
Champion jockey Tony McCoy shows his discomfort after riding his 150th Winner at Wetherby last month.
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TONY McCoy is set to return to competitive action next week as he recovers from his latest injury torment.

The 19-time champion jockey has endured an exasperating six weeks after a crashing fall from the Rebecca Curtis-trained Keep Presenting at Worcester on October 9 left him nursing shoulder and other unspecified injuries.

Though McCoy returned to the saddle six days later at Wetherby where he recorded his 150th win of the campaign, he was in so much discomfort that he gave up his remaining rides – including a ‘walkover’ where he was guaranteed a victory. McCoy, who still harbours increasingly improbable dreams of riding 300 winners in a season, then aggravated a rib injury in a fall at Exeter on November 4.

After recuperating in Barbados, he returned home for Tuesday’s funeral of Irish racing legend Dessie Hughes but is not sufficiently fit to ride Jonjo O’Neill’s Taquin Du Seuil in tomorrow’s Betfair Chase.

McCoy is, however, set to be back in the saddle ahead of next week’s high-profile Hennessy Gold Cup meeting at Newbury with the meetings at Fontwell and Wetherby on Wednesday under consideration for his hoped-for return.

His personal assistant, Gee Bradburne, said: “I’ve spoken to him very briefly and he’s been for an X-ray. Everything was good and he hopes to be back next Wednesday.”

Among McCoy’s rides at Newbury next weekend is Jonjo O’Neill’s World Hurdle winner More Of That in the bet365Long Distance Hurdle.

Meanwhile, Cue Card will face eight rivals when he defends his Betfair Chase crown.

Colin Tizzard’s stable star was beaten into fourth on his seasonal reappearance in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter at the start of the month, but he finished third in the same race a year ago before going on to success on Merseyside.

The eight-year-old will once again clash with last year’s runner-up Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti in the most eagerly-anticipated race of the 2014 National Hunt season.

Tomorrow’s meeting, which will see the Yorkshire-trained Hawk High, Lightening Rod and Aurore D’Estruval take on The New One in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle, will also see the launch of National Jockey Day to raise awareness and recognise the relentless and dangerous risks that riders face on a daily basis.

The initiative is being supported by online bookmaker Betfair, the Injured Jockeys Fund and Haydock racecourse.

It has also received the backing of eight-time champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls, and retired jump jockey Mick Fitzgerald, whose career came to an end when he broke his neck in a fall in the Grand National.

The average Flat jockey rides in 220 races per year, while the average jump jockey has 162 mounts.

Despite the long days at work, high skill levels and danger, the average wage for a jockey is £30,680 per year. Flat jockey race fees are set at £118.29 per ride, jump jockeys are set higher at £161.51.

Betfair spokesperson, Naomi Totten, said: “We feel jockeys are one of the hardest-working athletes in sport and deserve a day where the nation supports their unwavering efforts.

“By partnering with the Injured Jockeys Fund, the hope is this year’s campaign can go some way to giving back to an integral industry charity.

“We’d like to urge people to get involved and support the campaign and would also like to personally thank all our partners for their support of National Jockey Day.”

People can support National Jockey Day by tweeting #NationalJockeyDay with £1 per tweet being donated to the Injured Jockeys Fund by Betfair.

Fans can also donate £5 by texting ‘IJF’ to 70800.

Indeed, the risks facing jockeys were all too apparent at Wincanton yesterday when the luckless Jamie Insole was taken to hospital after suffering a fractured jaw and facial injuries.

The jockey was having his first ride as a conditional aboard the Alan King-trained Say When and only made it as far as the first flight when his mount veered badly right and dumped him on the turf, also bringing down Admirable Duque.

Aidan O’Brien’s Leading Light, the 2013 Ladbrokes St Leger winner, has been retired and will join Coolmore’s National Hunt stallion roster.

The four-year-old was last seen running at Ascot on Champions Day where he trailed home seventh behind Forgotten Rules but it later transpired he suffered a serious injury in an incident with the eventual winner.

As well as the St Leger success at Doncaster, Leading Light won this summer’s Ascot Gold Cup in a thrilling finish from the Queen’s Estimate who was subsequently disqualified after testing positive for contaminated horse feed.

“He’s a gorgeous, big horse and we’re delighted to be getting him,” said Coolmore’s Albert Sherwood.