MUSSELBURGH remains a possible venue for Tony McCoy’s landmark 4,000th winner, as the champion jockey crept within one of the milestone at Chepstow yesterday and tries again to hit the mark on two scheduled rides at Towcester this afternoon.
If McCoy emerges from the day’s action without a winner, he could either head to Southwell or north to Musselburgh tomorrow, although the former will be his destination if either of owner JP McManus’s entries in the closing National Hunt race is declared to run.
It would be a remarkable coup for Musselburgh, but whatever direction the McCoy bandwagon heads, there will still be two exciting days of racing for visitors to enjoy as the East Lothian course raises the curtain on its new season of jumps fixtures today.
McCoy admits it will be a relief to bag his 4,000th winner aafter steering Minella For Steak to victory at Chepstow. The 18-time champion was due to ride Mission Complete in the NFU Mutual Supports RABI Handicap Hurdle, but trainer Jonjo O’Neill took that one out on account of the testing ground, prompting McCoy to switch to stablemate Minella For Steak.
McCoy replaced 10lb-claimer James Huxham and he travelled well throughout the three-mile heat aboard the well-supported 3-1 favourite. He opted to kick for home early and appeared to be in total control approaching the penultimate flight, only for Heronshaw to throw down a late challenge, drawing level over the last, but McCoy kept pressing his mount and Minella For Steak responded, digging deep to win by three-quarters of a length for owners Gay Smith and John Magnier.
McCoy had earlier been out of luck as El Macca could finish only fifth in the opening RABI Gateway Project Maiden Hurdle.
He said of his winner: “He’s amazing this horse, because he really struggles to breathe. I’m glad that Jonjo let me ride him. I had to ring him and ask.”
McCoy has two booked rides for O’Neill at Towcester today. The 39-year-old gets the leg-up aboard Church Field in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle (2.10) and Mountain Tunes in the Weatherbys Novices’ Hurdle (3.10).
Asked about the chances of his mounts, the jockey said: “It would be great if one of them won. For my riding career, the sooner the better that one of them wins, so I can get on with trying to have a few winners.”
At Musselburgh, meanwhile, James Ewart is starting to get his horses into top gear and the Langholm has several fancied runners.
Having saddled his 100th on Saturday, Ewart is after more success with Civil Unrest, Teo Vivo and Ueueteotl.
Teo Vivo makes his debut over fences in the William Hill – Supporting Musselburgh’s Free Raceday Novices’ Handicap Chase and his trainer said: “He should make an exciting novice chaser. He is still only six and is improving physically.”
Civil Unrest is the first runner for the yard in the opening Northern Hotel Brechin Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle under stable claimer Dale Irving, while Ueueteotl will shoulder top-weight in the Loganbet Brechin The Special Bookmaker Handicap Hurdle.The ten-meeting Musselburgh jumps season carries over £600,000 in prize money and no jumps race will be worth less than £5,000 (National Hunt Flat races £3,000).