Tony McCoy endured another frustrating afternoon yesterday with just one winner – but four short-odds losers – leaving him two adrift of Sir Gordon Richards's all-time record. If the plan is to break the record in the Grand National then the champion jockey could find his big problem will be choosing between Martin Pipe's multiple entries in the Aintree race.
Pipe said yesterday that he is planning to run as many of his National entries as possible on Saturday – which could be eight or nine. The trainer has 12 horses left among the 71 acceptors at the five-day stage, with only three of them, Carryonharry, L'Epicurien and Nocksky, out of the handicap at present.
Pipe said: "The intention is to run all those that are in the handicap. Imperial De Thaix is the only one who might not run as he is in at Ascot on Wednesday."
Blowing Wind is the likely, but not confirmed, mount of McCoy, who is now on 267 winners for the season after winning the first race at Chepstow yesterday on Carandrew. He now needs three more to break Sir Gordon's record.
The rest of the Chepstow card was a surprisingly bleak experience for McCoy who was beaten on Cesaria (5-4 fav, 5th), Samsaam (evens fav, pulled up), Copeland (evens fav, second, beaten a neck) and Max Pride (6-4 fav, 4th).
To make matter worse, the champion was adjudged to have used his whip in an incorrect place on Copeland and suspended for two days (10 and 11 April). He will also miss the previous day because the BHB have decided that the cards at Exeter, Pontefract and Southwell should be cancelled due to the Royal funeral.
The champion admitted that the record is becoming more elusive. "If I don't do it at Warwick tomorrow I don't know where I'll be riding on Wednesday at the moment. You get to presume nothing when you are doing this as I've been beaten on a couple I thought would win today. It's taking a long time to get there, but hopefully it will come and I'll keep going."
The champion has five booked rides today at Warwick, where bookmakers will be hoping for more McCoy-mania from punters.
Criticism of Pipe has come from Ginger McCain, trainer of another National hope, Amberleigh House. McCain needs eight horses to be withdrawn before his horse can run and he slated Pipe for having so many runners entered in the race. But Pipe retorted yesterday: "I won't be disappointing Mr McCain personally. If the owners want to run then that's it."
Another trainer facing an anxious wait to see if his horse can line up on Saturday is Ian Balding, who has both Logician and and one-time National favourite, Moor Lane, entered.
The next few days will be tense for Balding and Bob Michaelson, Moor Lane's owner. Moor Lane is 46th in the list for the race, which has a safety limit of 40. "It looks dodgy. We need six to come out," Balding said. "Logician is in and Mr Michaelson has got Celibate in, but they wouldn't want to come out unless four others come out."
Florida Pearl was a surprise acceptor but also holds engagements in the Martell Cup on Thursday and Melling Chase on Friday. His trainer, Willie Mullins, confirmed that the National top weight is unlikely to take his place on Saturday which would mean Marlborough carrying top weight of 11st 12lb.
All the leading fancies stood their ground except the 2000 winner, Papillon, who has suffered a setback. The going on the Grand National course is good, good to soft in places.
Coral have reported more support for Ireland's Davids Lad and the Philip Hobbs-trained What's Up Boys, who is to be ridden by Richard Johnson. Davids Lad is now 11-1 from 14-1 while What's Up Boys has shortened to 16-1 from 20-1.
GRAND NATIONAL (Aintree, Saturday) Coral: 8-1 Blowing Wind, Ad Hoc, 11-1 Davids Lad, 12-1 Moor Lane, Beau, 14-1 Alexander Banquet, 16-1 Marlborough, What's Up Boys, 20-1 Paris Pike, Gunner Welburn, 25-1 Smarty, Bindaree, Kingsmark, The Last Fling, Samuel Wilderspin, 28-1 others