Has McCoy made Grand National error by ignoring Cause of Causes?

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Tony McCoy has a history in recent years for picking the wrong horse in big races. Who can forget the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, when hindsight showed that he selected the incorrect mount in both the Champion Hurdle and Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

In both cases, Barry Geraghty collected the spare rides on Jezki and More Of That and guided both to victory.

McCoy also opted for Synchronised in the 2012 Grand National having previously ridden the horse to victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He then fell at Aintree as another JP McManus-owned runner Sunnyhillboy ended up losing by a nose under Richie McLernon to Neptune Collonges.

The 19-time champion jockey has had a similar dilemma this season, opting to ride the current 7/1 favourite Shutthefrontdoor, with Cheltenham Festival winner Cause Of Causes appearing more than a viable alternative.

It is last year’s Irish Grand National that has probably had the biggest bearing on McCoy’s decision, with Shutthefrontdoor’s aggressive jumping and dour staying ability helping secure victory, albeit under the guidance of that man Geraghty again.

Shutthefrontdoor does race off an 11lb higher mark at Aintree, but was impressive when last seen at Carlisle in November.

The big negatives for the horse are his inexperience after just six chase starts and his lengthy absence isn’t ideal based on previous National winners.

Cause Of Causes was only 12th in the aforementioned Irish National after some clumsy early jumping left him with too much to do.

He re-opposes Shutthefrontdoor on 11lb better terms at Aintree and more significantly landed the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham impressively off his Grand National mark.

This performance went a long way to proving his stamina, while also finally bringing a chase victory at the 11th time of asking.

However, the faster pace of the Grand National might pose more of a problem because of the extra pressure it will place on his sometimes suspect jumping.

Yet, McCoy appears to have made the right decision based on the ways that the two horses prefer to be ridden.

McCoy hasn’t ridden Shutthefrontdoor since 2013, but the eight-year-old does seem the sort of horse that he will thrive upon. Don’t be surprised to see McCoy galvanise the horse in a similar fashion to the way he did on Wichita Lineman memorably at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival.

Cause Of Causes needs a much more patient ride, sitting out the back and gradually picking his way through the field. Jamie Codd did this perfectly in the amateur race at the Festival.

Paul Carberry is the ideal go-to man for such a task.

It is significant that Carberry has been on board the likes of Monbeg Dude when winning a Welsh National and Bellvano in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham. McCoy has ridden both of these horses over fences and won on neither. They simply don’t suit his riding style.

This is the reason that McCoy has made the right call, even if Cause Of Causes also seems to have benefited from the jockey bookings.

Hold-up horses tend to find it difficult to win Grand Nationals, largely because of the greater trouble in running they are sure to encounter.

Punters believing Cause Of Causes will make McCoy look foolish again, it is 16/1 that he wins the Grand National and gives Carberry a second victory in the race, following Bobbyjo’s success in 1999.

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

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.