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Why AP McCoy’s Holywell ‘snub’ shouldn’t deter Gold Cup backers

| 19.02.2015

AP McCoy has put an end to speculation over the mount for his final Gold Cup in his Cheltenham Racecourse blog.

The man they know simply as ‘Champ’ revealed to his readers, “I couldn’t be happier that Carlingford Lough [a 12/1 shot for the festival highlight] will be my ride.”

In doing so he quashed mounting speculation that he might desert the horse he recently rode to victory in the Grade 1 Irish Hennessey at Leopardstown in favour of Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell, himself just 8/1 in the betting for the festival showpiece.

However, the fact that McCoy has chosen to ride the Irish raider over the two-time festival winner shouldn’t be perceived as casting aspersions on the latter’s chances.

The retiring monolith’s decision is sure to be motivated, at least to a degree, by sentiment, with his chosen ride owned by long-term employer JP McManus.

Partnering Holywell would see McCoy riding against his boss in his final tilt at the steeplechasing’s blue riband.

Yet, far more importantly, the 19-time defending champion jockey was not in the plate for either of the O’Neill spring specialist’s Cheltenham Festival wins.

If McCoy had chosen to throw his lot in with the son of Gold Well it would have meant an unwarranted jocking off for the man who did, Richie McLernon.

Considering the O’Neill-affiliated pilot often gets the Champ’s scraps his strike rate of five wins in 33 chase runs at Cheltenham over the past five years is more than strong enough to suggest Holywell is in good hands.

McCoy’s selection Carlingford Lough did well to finish a 9l sixth in last year’s RSA Chase after a couple of early jumping errors.

However, his Cheltenham festival form doesn’t compare to that of McLernon’s mount, who has carried big weights to victory in competitive handicaps in the last two editions.

His finest chasing hour to date is widely believed to have come under McCoy in a 10l Grade 1 demolition of now 166-rated 4/1 Ryanair Chase favourite Don Cossack at Aintree in 2014.

But his in-command victory over Ma Filleule (a 159-mare these days), while giving that rival 7lbs, in last year’s Festival Handicap Chase was just as impressive.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.