CHAMPION jockey AP McCoy and top hurdler At Fishers Cross both attempt to return to winning ways at Wetherby today.
McCoy has five mounts at the meeting and will be hoping for better luck than his last visit to West Yorkshire on October 15 when he aggravated a serious shoulder injury – and had to give up three winning rides – after recording his 150th victory of the current campaign aboard Goodwood Mirage.
The 19-times champion jockey will be looking to horses like At Fishers Cross to get his quest to ride a record-breaking 300 winners in a season back on track.
It is disappointing that At Fishers Cross will only face two rivals – Cole Harden and Medinas – in the bet365 Hurdle following the defection of horses of the calibre of More Of That, Jonjo O’Neill’s unbeaten Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner, and the Philip Hobbs-trained Fingal Bay.
However, this could be to the benefit of the Rebecca Curtis-trained and JP McManus-owned At Fishers Cross, who has not won since recording back-to-back Grade One wins at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals in 2013.
Third at the Punchestown festival in early May, connections are hopeful of a confidence-boosting win. “He’s in good form, Rebecca is very happy with him and it’s a nice place to start,” said Frank Berry, the owner’s racing manager. “He did a nice bit of work at Chepstow last Saturday, so he goes up there in good form.”
McCoy comes in for the ride on Aurore D’estruval in the OLGB.com Mares’ Hurdle as Norton trainer John Quinn looks to replicate his stable’s victory in the corresponding race 12 months ago with Cockney Sparrow. Though lacking the experience of others, the Yorkshire horse is a worthy favourite.
McCoy’s day finishes with another three-runner affair when he partners the Curtis-trained Doing Fine in the concluding novice chase that will see Sue Smith’s highly-regarded Blakemount make his much-anticipated steeplechasing debut under 2013 Grand National-winning rider Ryan Mania.
Though the three-mile-one-furlong race – the Charlie Hall Chase course and distance – is longer and ideal for a chasing debutant, the High Eldwick trainer hopes a sedate pace will play to the strengths of her horse, who has not raced since being narrowly defeated by Malcolm Jefferson’s Urban Hymn at Doncaster in January.
“He’s a lovely horse and one to look forward to this season,” said Smith.