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Saturday 1 October 2016

McCoy has mole in final grade 1

AP McCoy will go up against quality opposition Sprinter Sacre in bid for last top-level success

Tony McCoy with partner Mr Mole at Sandown on Saturday
Tony McCoy with partner Mr Mole at Sandown on Saturday

Tony McCoy’s final ride in a Grade One race will come on Mr Mole in the bet365 Celebration Chase at Sandown on Saturday, for which seven runners, including Sprinter Sacre, were declared.

While the rest of McCoy’s rides on his final afternoon in the saddle remain somewhat up in the air, the mercurial Mr Mole will aim to give him one more top-level success to add to his incredible haul.

Ironically, it was after riding Mr Mole to victory at Newbury in February that McCoy shocked the racing world by announcing his intention to quit riding.

While many would love to see McCoy ride into the sunset on the back of another big winner, he will find it far from easy, not least with Sprinter Sacre in opposition.

But having returned to action this season it has not gone to plan for Nicky Henderson’s star.

A thoroughly acceptable comeback run at Ascot preceded a dull run at Cheltenham and a similar display would surely leave connections with a decision to make regarding his future.

He will be ridden in a race by Nico de Boinville for the first time as Barry Geraghty has failed to make it back from injury.

De Boinville, currently battling to be crowned champion conditional, rides Sprinter Sacre in all of his home-work.

Mick Channon’s veteran Somersby has been as consistent as ever this season and nearly pulled off a huge shock at Cheltenham when second to Dodging Bullets.

Just behind Somersby was Special Tiara, who will appreciate the good ground more than most for Henry de Bromhead.

God’s Own gave Un De Sceaux a fright in the Arkle and also went close at Aintree for Tom George.

Two other novices, Vibrato Valtat and Court Minstrel, are also in the field.

Barry  Geraghty is likely to know today if he is to make a surprise early return from injury for the last day of the British jumps season at Sandown this Saturday.

The Meath native, retained in the UK by Nicky Henderson who intends to run Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth in the two feature races, still rates his prospects as “slim” and is more optimistic of being back in action for the Punchestown Festival next week.

He reports his leg to be healing extremely well after he sustained a hairline fracture of his tibia in a fall at Downpatrick on March 22.

“We’ll have to make a decision and see how we go. I’ll see how I get through today and maybe make a decision tomorrow. I don’t know yet,” he said.

“I’m seeing my specialist in the morning. The leg’s good, I’m flying, but it’s not my specialist field. My prospects for Sandown are probably a bit slim, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed. Punchestown is still a week away.”

Davy Russell rates his prospects of being fit for the Punchestown Festival next week as “50-50”.

The jockey has been sidelined since breaking an arm in a fall at Gowran Park on March 21.

“The arm is coming along but I’m not sure now when I’ll be back yet,” said Russell.

 “I’m seeing the specialist later in the week, so we’ll see what they see and if they are happy with it. It’s still up in the air.

It’s 50-50 me riding at Punchestown at the minute.”

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