TONY McCoy endured an eventful journey up to Ayr but it was worth it in the end as he won on his only two mounts – with Tap Night the undoubted highlight.
McCoy ended up on a flight to Edinburgh instead of Glasgow, over 80 miles from Ayr, but the perennial champion jockey still made it to the track with plenty of time to spare. His first mount came on Tim Easterby’s Deepsand in the Maiden Hurdle and despite some hairy leaps out to his left in the straight, the 4-6 favourite was still able to see off the game challenge of Hallmark Star by a length.
However, it was for the JP McManus-owned Tap Night that McCoy made the long trek and he will enjoy the journey home after Lucinda Russell’s six-year-old cruised to a cheeky win in the Novices’ Chase. The first horse McManus has owned to be trained in Scotland, Tap Night holds entries in the Arkle and the Jewson at Cheltenham but could switch to a handicap.
Conceding 7lb to David Pipe’s The Tracey Shuffle, a 135-rated hurdler, the pair were sent off 11-8 joint-favourites. McCoy did not have to get serious to cruise up alongside his market rival before letting out an inch of rein after the last to win by a length and a half. “I’m really pleased because I wasn’t too sure about the distance in the heavy going but he seemed to cope really well,” said Russell. “I don’t suppose AP [McCoy] wanted The Tracey Shuffle to get too far in front and then he made a couple of mistakes and the Irish horse [Aibrean] fell so it opened up a bit. AP said he just made one mistake down the back. I’ve not really thought about Cheltenham. I’ll speak to Frank (Berry, McManus’ racing manager) and AP and see what they think.”
It turned out to be an excellent day for the trainer, with 2-1 favourite Nuts N Bolts claiming the Handicap Chase and 5-1 shot Island Confusion running away with the concluding bumper.
Meanwhile, Donald McCain admits the Festival target for Peddlers Cross will become clearer after today’s Howies Restaurants Edinburgh Hurdle at Musselburgh.
The 2011 Champion Hurdle runner-up has his first run over timber since the Aintree Hurdle a month after his fine run at Cheltenham. The intermediate trip of two miles and six furlongs should tell McCain whether to aim at the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle or even wait for Aintree. “We’ll have to decide where he goes because he won’t be having another run in between,” said McCain.