As horse racing moments go, there will be few to match Tony McCoy winning this year’s Grand National at Aintree.
McCoy is retiring at the end of the National Hunt season, but the hugely popular, soon-to-be 20-times champion jockey has confirmed that he will quit immediately if he wins the National on April 11.
His name is going to dominate pretty much every Grand National preview you will read and he will also likely feature prominently at http://www.bet365.com/news/en/betting/racing in the days leading up to the race.
But, what are the chances of McCoy winning the National on his last ride in the race?
Well, McCoy has confirmed it is ‘very likely’ that he will ride the current ante-post favourite Shutthefrontdoor. Since McCoy announced, unexpectedly, in February that he would be retiring, Shutthefrontdoor has come in for sustained support in the betting and you can expect his single figure price to shorten even more by the time of the off. But McCoy is also right to suggest that Shutthefrontdoor is a short price. That, though, will not put punters off backing the eight-year-old.
Shutthefrontdoor does possess the profile of a Grand National winner after winning the Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse 12 months ago. McCoy missed that ride due to suspension and he has not ridden the horse since December 2013. Shutthefrontdoor, though, has only hade three runs since then.
He was sixth in the National Hunt Chase at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival when ridden by Nina Carberry. The amateur jockeys’ race is run over four miles and Shutthefrontdoor was not beaten far by Midnight Prayer. Barry Geraghty filled in for McCoy in the Irish National and was again on board for Shutthefrontdoor’s only run this season when he was an easy victor in a Graduation Chase at Carlisle. The only thing to be learned that day was that Shutthefrontdoor’s jumping again showed improvement after mistakes were evident in his novice career.
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill isn’t worried by the fact that Shutthefrontdoor hasn’t run since and he has a decent weight of 11st 2lbs. It used to be thought that any weight over 11st was a hindrance, but three of the last six winners have carried in excess of that burden. Indeed, O’Neill and McCoy, along with owner JP McManus, teamed up to win the 2010 National with Don’t Push It, who carried 11st 5lbs to victory.
McCoy does have another option to Shutthefrontdoor, though, especially if something goes awry in the next fortnight. Cause Of Causes finally won over fences for the first time when staying on well to win the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.
He has been mentioned as a likely National type by Katie Walsh, but he does also have an entry in the Irish National on the Monday before the Aintree version. Cause Of Causes was a distant 12th behind Shutthefrontdoor at Fairyhouse last year and an 11lbs pull in the weights would give him a chance of turning that form around.
It is an envious position for McCoy to be in, especially on what will be such a landmark occasion. If he does win the Grand National, then it would be a storybook way to end a brilliant career.