The Bet365 Jumps Finale on Saturday 25th April brings the traditional National Hunt season to a close, but this year’s card will also witness the swansong of 20 times champion jockey AP McCoy.
McCoy will be hoping to end his career on a high by adding to his successes in the day’s two major races, the Bet365 Gold Cup and the Celebration Chase, which he was won twice and three-times respectively.
Bet365 Gold Cup
McCoy won his first Bet365 Gold Cup (then sponsored by Attheraces) on Bounce Back a 6-year-old carrying 10-9 and trained Martin Pipe.
Since then, the last 12 renewals have been won by four 8-year-olds, three 11-year-olds, two 7-year-olds, two 9-year-olds, and one 10-year-old. Tidal Bay was the only top-weight to win (11-12), whilst three other horses have carried between 11-0 and 11-5. Six horses have carried between 10-5 and 10-13, whilst two horses carried the bottom weight of 10-0.
Trainers Phillip Hobbs and Paul Nicholls have both won it twice in the last 12 years, whilst two Irish trainers have also took the prize back over the Irish Sea. Richard Johnson is the only jockey to have won it twice in that period, though McCoy won it again in 2009 on a horse carrying 10-7.
McCoy’s most likely mount appears to be either Gallant Oscar or Cantlow. The former is a 9-year-old trained by Irish trainer Tony Martin and currently set to carry 10-0, whilst the latter is a 10-year-old who has finished second in his only start at the course and is set to carry 10-1.
McCoy will be hoping that the current top-weights don’t run so the weights rise – but it will be interesting to see if he still rides one of them if they don’t.
McCoy has won 3 of the 14 runnings of this Grade 1, two-mile chase and will be hoping to make it 4 on his probable mount Mr Mole. If doing so, 7-year-old Mr Mole would emulate Twist Magic and Sire de Grugy who both won it at that age. It would also be a sixth success in the race for trainer Paul Nicholls. Mr Mole also has winning form over course and distance, though the forecast quick ground is potentially negative.
When it comes to Saturday, bookies will surely see an avalanche of sentimental money for the Champ’s mounts and, whilst it would be nice for him to retire on the back of a big winner, and his probably mounts fit some of the important statistics – we’re not sure he will.
Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on all the news and gossip – and will be back with our final big-race predictions at the weekend.