Cheltenham Festival Horse Racing By Sir Anthony McCoy

I’d choose to ride More Of That in the Gold Cup

In his latest blog for William Hill, Sir Anthony McCoy discusses the temptations of returning to the saddle and who he fancies for this year’s Cheltenham Festival

“It’s hard to say who will win the Gold Cup but I don’t really fancy Cue Card or Native River. Djakadam has apparently had a much better preparation this year according to Willie Mullins. I know he’s placed in two Gold Cups and there aren’t many horses who come back and do better, but he’s only an eight year old and I think he has a big chance. I’d choose to ride More Of That in the Gold Cup who I think has a big each-way chance.

He seems to be returning to form and he’s the only horse to beat Annie Power when she stood up. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran a big race. You do sometimes think when you get on a nice horse like More Of That, “I could ride another Gold Cup winner if I rode him” but even though I’ve had a lot of bangs on the head, I’m not stupid enough to come back.

When Barry Geraghty got injured, I was schooling some horses for Jonjo O’Neill and he was joking about me maybe returning as a jockey. I’m a realist and I said the only person I can think of who has made a successful comeback was Jesus! I thought about it afterwards and actually Lester Piggott made a good comeback on Royal Academy, but he was one of a kind. It’s crossed my mind lots of times, but I retired because I wanted to still be at the top when I bowed out. At some point if I carried on for one, two or five years, there would come a time when I would start to decline. I never wanted anyone to think “he’s not as a good as he was”. Numerically I was having my best campaign in my last season until I got injured. It’s better to have people ask “why did you retire” rather than “why haven’t you retired”.

I’m really looking forward to watching Altior (Arkle) and Douvan (Queen Mother Champion Chase) at this year’s Festival. I can’t see many chinks in their armour. I think both can win their races by more than 5 lengths, with Altior perhaps winning by the furthest.

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#YourOdds Special – Altior (Arkle) & Douvan (Queen Mother Champion Chase) to both win by 6 or more lengths – 4/1

My dark horse for the Festival would be My Tent Or Yours in the Champion Hurdle. I think he has a good each-way chance in a race where Petit Mouchoir and The New One will be ridden positively. I think the one to beat is Yanworth given what he’s achieved. He’s won on two tracks that didn’t suit his strengths and Mark Walsh got off him the other day after schooling and said that he jumped brilliantly.

The Ryanair Chase is dependent on the ground. If it keeps drying out then Uxizandre has a very good chance. He loves good ground and put up a very good time when I rode him to win the 2015 renewal. If we get a bit of rain, Un De Sceaux will come out on top.

In the Stayers’ Hurdle, Unowhatimeanharry has the beating of the other British horses. Jezki is a proper Grade 1 horse and he’s probably his biggest danger. I’d go with the favourite but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jezki beat him.

I think Ruby Walsh deserves to be odds-on favourite to be top jockey at the Festival. He’s got Douvan, Yorkhill, Djakadam and his choice of horses in the mares’ races. He’s got a strong hand.

Nicky Henderson has got some classy horses like Buveur D’Air, Brain Power, My Tent Or Yours, Altior is a banker for the Arkle and Top Notch has a good chance in the JLT, but despite those good horses Willie Mullins deserves to be favourite to be the top trainer. Put it this way, the bookies are never usually far wrong.

My best bet in the handicaps is The Druids Nephew in the Ultima Handicap Chase. He’s won the race before, he runs off a good mark and his trainer has won a lot of good handicaps.”


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