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AP McCoy's Cheltenham tips: Gold Cup could be the best in years

Former Champion Jockey backs Champ, Sir Erec and Tiger Roll for success

AP McCoy rates Willie Mullins' Cheltenham Gold Cup chances very highly.
AP McCoy rates Willie Mullins' Cheltenham Gold Cup chances very highly.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AP MCCOY RECKONS this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup could be the best in recent memory.

A two-time winner of the Festival’s most coveted prize, McCoy also feels Willie Mullins has a great chance of breaking his Gold Cup hoodoo, with Bellshill, Kemboy and Al Boum Photo all priced among the bookies’ favourites.

The former Champion Jockey is also hopeful of Buveur D’Air making it a three-timer in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle, which pits the eight-year-old against the race’s marginal favourite, Apples Jade.

“I’d love to see Buveur D’Air win a third Champion Hurdle,” McCoy said.

“And the Gold Cup is as good a Gold Cup as I’ve seen in many a year.

AP McCoy celebrates winning with JP McManus AP McCoy celebrates winning at Cheltenham with JP McManus. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“There are so many variables with Presenting Percy, Native River – who won it last year – and Clan Des Obeaux – who won the King George.

“Willie Mullins has never won it, but he’s got three really good chances and any one of those three have genuine chances of winning the Gold Cup.”

On a personal level, though, McCoy would take huge satisfaction from Champ, favourite in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday, crossing the line in front.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Champ is named after McCoy, who previously encouraged owner JP McManus to purchase the seven-year-old, who won the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury in December.

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Nicky Henderson Trainer Nicky Henderson is aiming for success with Champ in Wednesday's Cheltenham opener. Source: ©INPHO

“I rode him as a young horse and I told JP to buy him. I thought he was a pretty nice horse and he’s done very well.

“I actually bought him thinking he might be more of a Gold Cup horse. He’s actually out of a half-sister to Best Mate and I thought he was more of a staying chaser, so he’s kind of surprised me that he’s done as well as he has over hurdles.

“People say that stats are against him; no seven-year-old has won the Ballymore and the horse that won the Challow Hurdle hasn’t won a Ballymore for a long time.

“But he doesn’t know that and he’s been very good this season. If you could pick one horse in that race, he’d definitely be high on most people’s lists.

“It’d be nice to have a horse that I told JP to buy, that’s named after me, to go to the Cheltenham Festival and win, it’d be great.” 

AP’S Cheltenham Bankers

  • Champ – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – Wednesday, March 13
  • Tiger Roll – Cross County Chase – Wednesday, March 13
  • Sir Erec – Triumph Hurdle – Friday, March 15 

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