McCoy relishes opportunity to seal historic double at Aintree

Lion na Bearnai ridden by Andrew Thornton
Lion na Bearnai ridden by Andrew Thornton
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CHAMPION jockey AP McCoy hopes class will tell as Synchronised bids to become the first horse to complete the Gold Cup and Grand National double since the legendary Golden Miller in 1934.

The record-breaking rider, victorious at Aintree two years ago on Don’t Push It, was speaking after last month’s Cheltenham hero was confirmed as a definite runner in the John Smith’s Grand National.

Synchronised, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, heads the 48 horses declared yesterday – though Malton trainer Brian Ellison faces an anxious wait to see if Neptune Equester makes the final cut.

Ellison needs two horses to be withdrawn by Friday morning for his staying chaser to line up as the National field is restricted to 40 runners on safety grounds.

Yet, while the Yorkshire handler is bullish about his horse’s chances, all the pre-race hype revolves around McCoy’s mount who will carry top weight.

“Jonjo is pretty happy with him so we’ll have to see,” said McCoy yesterday.

“I’m looking forward to it. He was obviously very tough and brave to win the Gold Cup.

“He’s got a lot of weight but he’s a classy horse and he’s won a Welsh National and a Midlands National, so he stays well and if he does take his chance, hopefully, he’ll give a good account.”

Davy Russell – a former stable jockey at Ferdy Murphy’s West Witton yard – rides dual Kerry National winner Alfa Beat while Paddy Brennan has been booked for Giles Cross, who won Haydock’s Grand National Trial and would relish soft conditions.

Robbie Power rode Silver Birch to victory in 2007 and will ride Killyglen for Stuart Crawford. “He was going very well last year and just left his hind legs in the fourth-last, the ditch,” said the rider.

“He was going real well at the time and he’s had a better preparation this year. He’s had a wind op and that proved successful when he won at Down Royal on St Patrick’s Day.”

There was a fairytale 33-1 success for the connections of Lion Na Bearnai in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

Trainer Tom Gibney only trains a handful of horses near the course and journeyman jockey Andrew Thornton has been in and out of the sport over the last few years.

He looked a sitting duck for Edward O’Grady’s Out Now in the straight but the 10-year-old wanted it more after the last and went on to win by four and a half lengths.

Cheltenham winner Alfie Sherrin was third, with Paddy Pub fourth.

“I only have the five horses and this is unbelievable, just brilliant,” said Gibney.

Robin Bastiman has no intention of retiring his stable star Borderlescott just yet.

The 10-year-old has won the Nunthorpe Stakes twice in his prime but has not sparkled at Lingfield or Musselburgh this season since returning from a long-term injury.

However, Bastiman feels little has been in his stable star’s favour so far this season and it is far too early to take a drastic decision on his future.

“He’s fine after the race on Saturday but he didn’t like the ground at Musselburgh,” said the Wetherby trainer.

“We’ve no intention of retiring him just yet, though, as he never comes to hand early and always needs a few races to warm up.”

Richard Hughes is to appeal the decision of the British Horseracing Authority to uphold the 50-day ban he was served while riding in India for not riding to trainer instructions.

Reciprocal arrangements in international racing meant Richard Hannon’s stable jockey lost his original appeal but the rider is to persist in his legal challenge, citing his denial of legal representation in the stewards’ inquiry in India in Mumbai.

A similar breach in this country attracts a ban of seven to 21 days. “I feel that I have been unfairly treated and that is why I am appealing,” said Hughes, who is out of action until April 30 at present.

Parc De Launay has always been held in high regard by Tadcaster’s Tom Tate and he is of definite interest on his seasonal debut in the Dalby Stand Handicap at Pontefract.

David O’Meara’s Descaro has an obvious chance of securing back-to-back victories in the two-and-a-quarter-mile Jamaican Flight Handicap at the West Yorkshire track’s first meeting of 2012.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk