Aintree braced for McCoy fever

As AP McCoy’s domination of National Hunt racing draws to a close, all eyes will be on the 20-times champion jockey during the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival.

An image of McCoy and his 2010 Crabbie’s Grand National winner Don’t Push It was projected on to Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building on Wednesday night, along with the words “The Greatest Jockey, the Greatest Race.”

Aintree’s managing director John Baker said: “This year AP McCoy will break yet another record when he becomes the jockey to have had the most rides in the history of the Grand National [20]. Ahead of his retirement and his last ever ride in the race we, together with Great British Racing and the City of Liverpool, felt it appropriate to do something special to honour this sporting legend.”

Banners picturing all McCoy’s Crabbie’s Grand National rides line the walkway behind the stands at Aintree. He will be inducted into racecourse’s Hall of Fame on Friday, 10th April.

There is also a special “Thank you AP” signature wall where racegoers can write their own tribute to the jockey, which was already proving popular early on Thursday morning.

Racegoer Christine Moore signed the wall, saying: “AP is the sport of jump racing and everyone will miss him. I think this is a great idea and it’ll fill up very quickly. We’re looking forward to seeing him today, and hope we’ll get to see him one more time at our local track, Uttoxeter, before he retires.”

“This week is all about AP McCoy,” said Andrew Griffiths of bookmakers Betfred. “He’s the go-to guy for punters and we’re braced for a series of McCoy-inspired punts at Aintree.

“Every one of his rides is nailed on to be well-backed and if he’s on form it will be a very long week for the bookmakers.

“The Grand National itself is a particularly frightening prospect. Every man and his dog will be on Shutthefrontdoor. If he wins we will be paying out until Christmas.”

McCoy’s Crabbie’s Grand National ride, Shutthefrontdoor, is currently favourite for the race at around 7/1.

William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “If McCoy is among the winners at Aintree, then more people will back him and the cumulative effect could be that Shutthefrontdoor starts as the shortest-priced favourite since Red Rum.”

BOOKIES FEAR MCCOY NATIONAL PLUNGE

Shutthefrontdoor is the 7/1 favourite for the Crabbie’s Grand National with Betfred, Aintree’s official betting partner, after a maximum field of 40 was declared for Saturday’s race.

All eyes will be on the eight-year-old, who will not only be giving champion jockey AP McCoy his record-breaking 20th ride in the race but also his final ever spin round the Grand National Course before he retires.

“The Crabbie’s Grand National is the most anticipated race of the year,” said Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths.

“There are so many horses in with a real chance but for us only one horse matters – Shutthefrontdoor. He’s currently our 7/1 favourite. We don’t expect that price to shorten too much over the next 24 hours, but that will all change once the public support arrives on Saturday morning.”

Last year’s winner, Pineau De Re, is a 25/1 shot as he aims to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back runnings of the world’s most famous chase. His trainer, Dr Richard Newland, will be double handed in the race and his other runner, Royale Knight, has been chalked up at 25/1 by Betfred.

Balthazar King, who finished second last year, is next in the market at 10/1, alongside Rocky Creek, who finished fifth in 2014.

The Druid’s Nephew, who was impressive when winning the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, is a 12/1 shot while Cause Of Causes, who also won at Cheltenham, is next at 14/1.

Nina Carberry is the only female jockey riding in this year’s race and Betfred make it a 25/1 shot that she becomes the first woman to partner a Grand National winner. Her mount, First Lieutenant, is no stranger to Aintree, having won the Grade One Betfred Bowl in 2013.

GUIDE TO THE GRAND NATIONAL 2015 – CLICK HERE

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