AP in action at Cheltenham

05th March 2014

AP McCoy previews the Cheltenham Festival

The Festival is almost here for another year and I’m pleased to report that My Tent Or Yours is on course for the Champion Hurdle after his little scare this week. He obviously just stood on something, which does happen, but Nicky Henderson is very happy with him and that’s good news. It didn’t interfere with his work at all and it is better that it happened this week rather than next that is for sure!

Even after riding at so many Festivals I still get as excited as ever, if not more so, as I know there are only a few left. I may as well enjoy them while I am still going and I’m hoping I have some good chances next week.

Going back to the Champion Hurdle and My Tent, like Our Conor, The New One and Jezki all have chances but Hurricane Fly has been there, done it and is the one to beat. Saying that, I am very happy to be riding My Tent and looking back he was a totally different horse at Kempton on Boxing Day than he was at Newcastle earlier in the season, even though he was impressive at Newcastle. Hopefully he can improve again from Kempton and Nicky Henderson’s record training Champion Hurdle horses speaks for itself.

He is such a good traveller and such a good work horse that you would have to do so much with him at home to get him to have a blow so his run at Kempton served a great purpose in that sense. He is a keen-going horse and if we had raced him elsewhere on heavy ground he would have given himself a hard race whether he won easily or not, so that is the reason why he went to Kempton.

Looking ahead to Wednesday and Captain Cutter is a possible for the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle, but he is still in the mix for the Albert Bartlett too and I am not sure where he is going to run. Wherever he goes he will have to improve to beat the likes of Faugheen and Red Sherlock. It won’t be easy but I’ll be hoping he has a chance.

One that definitely has a chance of making the first three is Carlingford Lough in the RSA. He is a very solid 151 horse and will run to that mark all day long; it is just whether one of the others can step up again. He was staying on nicely the last day at Leopardstown when I fell off him against Ballycasey. The longer trip will suit Ballycasey but it will also suit my horse and I think he will be there or thereabouts.

With Sprinter Sacre out Sire De Grugy is definitely the one to beat in the Champion Chase, and the only holes you can pick in him is that he has been beaten twice at Cheltenham. Has he improved? You would probably have to say that he has and he has the best form coming in to this. It is a very, very open Champion Chase but he is the one to beat.

I am going to be riding Kid Cassidy in the race and he has a little each-way chance. He needs to improve as he was getting 10lbs from Sire De Grugy when he beat him at Cheltenham in November, and we are a little bit like everyone else thinking there is no Sprinter Sacre so we will have a go at it.

The big race on Thursday is the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and it has been well documented in the last few days that I have decided to ride At Fisher’s Cross over More Of That. It was a tough decision and I rode More Of That this morning and he is flying. I was on him thinking ‘maybe I should be riding him at Cheltenham’ but the only worry I have is that it will be his first run at three miles. Looking at the race with Annie Power now in it, Paul Nicholls will have four runners and the best stayer of them all is Big Buck’s – so it isn’t going to be a slowly-run World Hurdle. Big Buck’s is the ultimate stayer – he will stay and then stay a bit more. I know Zarkandar has a different owner but Andy Stewart owns half of Salubrious and all of Celestial Halo and Big Buck’s so I do think it will be a very true-run race.

I felt At Fishers Cross was much more like his old self at Cheltenham on Trials Day, and while he needs to step up again things are going the right way. Rebecca Curtis has been very happy with him since and believes he has turned a corner. I think Big Buck’s is the one we have to beat because of the way the race is going to be run and Annie Power will have to prove that she really stays – and she will really need to stay. It would be different if Big Buck’s was going out there on his own as he would have to make it a test of stamina but he is going to plenty of help on that score.

It was looking like I would have to sit the Gold Cup out and just watch it but Rebecca has asked me to ride Teaforthree. He will be a good ride but Bobs Worth will be very hard to beat. Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Last Instalment are the three to concentrate on but I think Bobs Worth has been campaigned with the Gold Cup very much in mind. He was impressive at Leopardstown over Christmas, has a phenomenal Cheltenham record and I can’t see past him.

I’ve never been a big one for Cheltenham preview nights but I am doing a couple this year. One after racing at Sandown on the Saturday before The Festival and then one at Cheltenham on the Sunday evening before the meeting gets underway, Sunday 9th March, so it would be good to see you there if you can make it.

The one at Cheltenham also features the likes of Alan Lee, Jessica Lamb and Lee Mottershead from the Racing Post so I’m sure a few interesting opinions will be raised during the evening. For further details visit http://www.cheltenham.co.uk/about/festival-preview/

This is an extract from the exclusive blog by AP McCoy, Ambassador for the Cheltenham Racecourse 2013-14 Season and 18 times Champion Jockey. Read the full entry at www.cheltenham.co.uk/ap-mccoy/