Colbert Station the pick of McCoy’s potential Grand National rides
17-time Champion Jockey AP McCoy is used to a wealth of options in the big handicaps thanks to his long and fruitful history as retained rider to owner JP McManus. Back in 2011 he chose correctly as his mount Don’t Push It carried the legendary horseman to his first victory in the Grand National, but a year later he passed up the chance to ride Sunnyhillboy, beaten just a nose into second, in favour of the ill-fated Synchronised.
This year’s race sees Sunnyhillboy – 14/1 with Coral – vying for the champ’s affections once more, with the Ted Walsh-trained Colbert Station the alternative paramour in this equine tug of love.
If a horse completes the National, the experience can often stand them in good stead in subsequent years, with the likes State Of Play, Big Fella Thanks and Ballabriggs mounting repeat raids on the first six home in recent years and Sunnyhillboy most certainly has that in his favour.
However, last year’s 16/1 silver medallist produced that superb performance off the back of a pleasing season in which he’d carried off the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase – an increasingly influential Grand National trial previously won by Ballabriggs – at the Cheltenham festival.
This year the 10-year-old must face the Aintree gods with 13lbs more weight on his back than in 2011 and a dearth of pleasing form in the book. In his defence Jonjo O’Neill has undoubtedly been building his chaser’s campaign around going one better at Aintree with his two runs this term coming over hurdles.
The form of Colbert Station – his 10/1 rival for McCoy’s partnership – just keeps getting complimented.
His nine-and-a-half-length second to Roi Du Mee over timber puts him just five lengths behind the injured ante-post Grand National betting favourite Prince De Beauchene, on the back of the latter’s second to the same horse in January. Fellow Aintree protagonists Seabass and Bob Lingo were down the field that day too.
Next time he served up a five-and-a-half-length beating to Romanesco, with that one finishing third in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Trained by National winning handler Ted Walsh, any doubts over how well he stays the trip can be soothed by memories of the fashion in which same trainer’s Seabass made light of similar concerns in last year’s renewal.