KEITH Mercer has landed the plum ride on leading fancy Divers in tomorow’s Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup after Graham Lee suffered a broken collarbone at Huntingdon.
Lee partnered Ferdy Murphy’s charge to finish third in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup as well as steering him to victory in last season’s Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.
However, Lee sustained a broken collarbone after parting company with Eliades Run, leaving Richmond-based Mercer to step in for the ride.
Divers is trained at West Witton by Ferdy Murphy who said: “Graham’s broken his collarbone and Keith now takes the ride. It is a blow but it’s just one of those unfortunate things. The horse jumped it brilliantly and then he was brought down. That’s racing I suppose.”
Divers is not the only runner to have an unexpected jockey change with Tony McCoy electing to ride Sunnyhillboy rather than Quantitativeeasing in the feature event.
It had been presumed the champion jockey would be riding Nicky Henderson’s Quantitativeeasing after the gelding finished second in the Paddy Power last month.
He is better off at the weights with the winner, Great Endeavour, and Henderson has issued upbeat reports.
However, McCoy has chosen to ride Sunnyhillboy for Jonjo O’Neill, who finished third in the Irish National last season.
As both horses are owned by his retainer, JP McManus, McCoy had the choice but a word in his ear from O’Neill appears to have had the desired effect.
“AP was riding the other horse and I didn’t sway him, but I said to him the horse is in great form and we’re thrilled to bits with him at home,” said O’Neill.
Barry Geraghty rides Quantitativeeasing instead.
Back at Huntingdon, Gauvain – a faller in Saturday’s Tingle Creek – won the Peterborough Chase from Henrietta Knight’s King George-bound Somersby, with Bingley trainer Sue Smith’s novice Mr Moonshine a very promising third. He’s clearly a horse to follow, particularly over longer trips.
n One of the Arkle ante-post favourites gets his season under way in the Atteys Solicitors Novices’ Chase at Doncaster today.
Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre was a very smart novice hurdler, finishing third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle behind Al Ferof. With Barry Geraghty at Cheltenham, and Andrew Tinkler injured, young David Bass takes the mount.
n Brian Ellison’s Grade One-winning juvenile Marsh Warbler is unlikely to run in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham tomorrow because the ground is likely to be on the quick side for the Malton trainer’s promising four-year-old.