Grand National 2014: Tony McCoy factor cuts Double in half for Aintree


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The Independent Online

The Tony McCoy factor was at work here on and off the track today. Once the 18-times champion picked Double Seven over Colbert Station for Saturday's Grand National, the chosen one pretty much halved in price and may well start favourite. McCoy will be riding in the Aintree showpiece for the 19th time and such is his allure that his mount has started favourite on seven occasions, including his when his sole victor Don't Push It landed a gamble four years ago.

Double Seven, an eight-year-old whose Co Kildare-based trainer Martin Brassil saddled Numbersixvalverde to win the 2006 National, is now as short as 12-1.

The Cheltenham Festival may be the focus of much of the season's hype, but this meeting also offers opportunities for elite performers and in today's Grade One contests four of those defeated last month – The New One, Silviniaco Conti, Guitar Pete and Uxizandre – regrouped.

For The New One, a patently unlucky third in the Champion Hurdle, it was a desperately close thing in the Aintree Hurdle; he held on by only a head and a nose from Rock On Ruby and Diakali after jumping the final obstacle clear. "Perhaps the three weeks from Cheltenham wasn't a long enough break," said relieved rider Sam Twiston-Davies. "He just seemed to lack a bit of sparkle."

Silviniaco Conti, fourth in the Gold Cup, put forward his case to be judged top of his division by adding the Betfred Bowl to his King George VI Chase, digging in gamely to see off old rival Dynaste.

McCoy produced a perfectly judged ride from the front on Uxizandre, conserving just enough to hold Oscar Whisky in the Manifesto Chase.

The Fox Hunters' Chase over the Grand National fences went to Warne, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen.