Ayr racegoers get opportunity to cheer on McCoy

Tony McCoy is the star attraction at Ayr, even more so after he revealed he plans to retire. Picture: PA

Tony McCoy is the star attraction at Ayr, even more so after he revealed he plans to retire. Picture: PA

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LEGENDARY 19-times champion jockey Tony McCoy, who on Saturday stunned racing by announcing he will retire from the saddle at the end of the season, has three rides at Ayr today.

“AP” partners Top Of The Glas for Brian Ellison in the opening maiden hurdle and has two mounts for Larne trainer
Stuart Crawford – Yes Tom in the feature, two mile four furlong handicap chase, and Cornerman in the last race on the card, the two-mile bumper.

Scottish racegoers are sure to give the warmest of welcomes to McCoy, who will almost certainly be back at the track in the spring for what is likely to be one of his last ever meetings – the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival on 17 and 18 April.

Meanwhile, Gary Moore says he would like to take Sire De Grugy to Plumpton for a racecourse gallop before his defence of his Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase crown.

Moore’s stable star returned from a lengthy absence at Newbury on Saturday in the Game Spirit Chase – won by McCoy on Mr Mole prior to him dropping his retirement bombshell live on Channel 4 Racing – an outing which the trainer labelled a “catalogue of disasters”.

He eventually fell after making several jumping errors. “He came out of it great, Jamie [Moore] did a light canter with him this morning,” Moore told At The Races.

“He had an interrupted and rushed preparation to get him there on Saturday. He never got into a rhythm, the start was messed up by the horse that won [Mr Mole] as he didn’t want to go. It was a catalogue of disasters really.

“He’ll definitely have a gallop and Plumpton will hopefully help me out – they did last year anyway.

“Now he’s come out of the race good and sound, I haven’t spoken to Plumpton yet but I’m hoping they’ll let us.”

Elsewhere, Paul Nicholls has been dealt a blow with the news that Al Ferof has a problem which will force him to miss his intended run in the Betfair Ascot Chase this weekend and the Cheltenham Festival. The grey, who finished third in the King George behind his stablemate Silviniaco Conti at Kempton on Boxing Day, requires surgery on an entrapped epiglottis.

As a consequence, Nicholls willnow enter his top-class novice Ptit Zig in Saturday’s Grade One contest.

The champion trainer told his Betfair column: “Al Ferof has a minor problem which rules him out of his intended target in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday, and also the Cheltenham Festival.

“He has a partially entrapped epiglottis which requires minor corrective surgery. So Ascot and Cheltenham are ruled out as he will be recovering, but the aim is to get him ready for Aintree and Punchestown.

“In the light of that, I will be entering Ptit Zig for the Betfair Ascot Chase at the weekend.”

Nicholls was happy with how Ptit Zig schooled on Monday morning and is not concerned about taking him out of novice company.

“I feel Ptit Zig is ready to step out of novice company. He is in great form and I am looking forward to running him at Ascot on Saturday - we will make a final decision just before the declaration stage on Thursday,” he said.

“He schooled well with Sam [Twiston-Davies] this morning and his Cheltenham target next month is the JLT Novices’ Chase.”

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