Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with eight to follow on Saturday at Sandown Park and Leicester. View selections below:
We will never see his like again but AP McCoy will retire this afternoon at Sandown having been crowned Champion jockey for a record 20th time. He has been a credit to the sport and he has two booked mounts Mr Mole in the Celebration Chase and Box Office in the Handicap Hurdle although if the former won I am sure he would retire on the spot.
In the opener I hope Unanimite (2.00) can reverse recent Ascot form with Lil Rockerfeller and Sternrubin on the revised terms for David Pipe and Tom Scudamore. The ground went against the selection last time and he can show his true worth back on a sound surface.
Menorah (2.35) won the inaugural Oaksey Chase twelve months ago and can follow up for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson. The selection has had a light campaign so far this term but ran well at Aintree last time and conditions are ideal. Al Ferof was disappointing at Aintree but he is a better horse going right-handed and must go well for Champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
The enigmatic Mr Mole could easily give McCoy a fairytale send-off if on a going day but he is just as likely to plant himself at the start and I must give Sprinter Sacre (3.15) one last chance to prove he still retains much of his old brilliance. We now know he will never be the same magnificent two-miler who carried all before him but connections would have retired him after Cheltenham if they didn’t think there was a good reason for his poor effort.
God’s Own will appreciate returning to a right-handed track but he had two hard races at Cheltenham and Aintree and they may have left their mark. That said he is likely to be the one to pick up the pieces if Sprinter Sacre once again fails to fire. The selection is 7/2 at BetVictor with Gods Own 13/2.
I have backed Paint The Clouds (3.50) and The Package each way for the Bet365 Gold Cup and preference for the former is marginal although I am slightly concerned about him forfeiting ground by jumping out to his right as he did at Towcester when scoring under AP McCoy the last time he went right-handed, albeit the best part of four years ago. At 9/1 with BetVictor he must go close and trainer Warren Greatrex tweeted yesterday that he had no concerns with the horse going right-handed.
The Ould Lad (5.00) gets further than today’s extended two-and-a-half-miles trip but ran better than his finishing position would suggest at the Festival and if handling underfoot conditions must go well for Tom George whose string remain in good form.
One who bounces off fast ground is Polly Peachum (5.35) and the mare can win the last jumps race of the 2014/15 season for Nicky Henderson. She was just touched off by Glens Melody in the Mares’ event at Cheltenham last time although she would have been no match for Annie Power had that mare not capsized with the race at her mercy.
There is an excellent 10f maiden at Leicester and I hope to see Storm The Stars (5.20) race more prominently than at Newmarket last time when he was never competitive under Richard Hughes. Joe Fanning, who rode him in his two juvenile races, takes over and he has most to fear from fellow Newmarket raiders Stars And Stripes and Dark Deed.
In the feature listed event I will be very disappointed if Aljamaaheer (4.15) doesn’t make a winning seasonal reappearance for Roger Varian. The 6-year-old had a disappointing season in 2014 but ran some excellent races in defeat and the forecast good to firm ground is ideal.
There is a first flat card at Wetherby on Sunday and Wardat Dubai (2.35) ran a race full of promise at Newmarket on debut and she can take the 7f maiden for Paul Hanagan and Charlie Hills.