Cheltenham: McCoy/O’Neill to overcome final Pertemps hurdle

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Few punters will be able to resist plotting A P McCoy’s last Cheltenham Festival odyssey as a jockey next week, although with Willie Mullins largely dominating fields for the yearly jamboree, it’s hard to see him riding too many winners.

The man himself named the Champion Hurdle defending Jezki, currently 9/2 with Ladbrokes, as his best shot, but with Mullins’ 1/1 favourite Faugheen and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 3/1 stablestar The New One spooking the market, winning will take a McCoy ride of the highest quality.

In Friday’s Gold Cup, 11/1 shot Carlingford Lough certainly looks a contender after the Moneyglass maestro confirmed he will ride the J P McManus-owned nine-year-old following the pair’s success in the Irish Hennessey at Leopardstown three weeks ago.

However, McCoy, boss McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill have shown very little Gold Cup pedigree as a team; the trio have only won once together with Synchronised in 2012, while the perennial champion jockey adds one more with Mr Mulligan for Noel Chance 15 years earlier.

The Cheltenham event that the McManus/O’Neill/McCoy axis has completely failed to get right is the Pertemps Final, seemingly through pure bad luck.

Four-time winner O’Neill is the most successful trainer in Pertemps history, twice through McManus-owned horses, but never with McCoy, whose sole triumph in the event came back in 1998 when still in the employ of old boss Martin Pipe.

He has been on some very useful animals in Thursday’s second race for McManus and O’Neill, including 2010 Grand National winner Don’t Push It 13 months before his biggest success, and this year’s 10/1 favourite for Aintree Shutthefrontdoor in 2013.

McManus has half of the first six in the Pertemps betting in Cup Final, Regal Encore and Join The Clan, all priced up as 10/1 joint-second favourites behind Nicky Henderson’s 8/1 jolly Call The Cops, who sprang to market supremacy after a fine weekend win at Doncaster.

For the sentimentalists at Cheltenham, of which there will be many, a McManus/O’Neill/McCoy victory with Join The Clan, who like Holywell a couple of Festivals back goes into the race after successive wins early in the calendar year, would do just nicely.

Hopefully the great man will pick him.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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