McCoy to ride Sir Des Champs in Gold Cup; jockey in coma
Injury to JT McNamara overshadows Cheltenham Gold Cup – but Bobs Worth remains the favourite
THE CHELTENHAM Festival comes to a close this afternoon with the Gold Cup, the biggest race of the week, but a cloud hangs over the meet as amateur jockey JT McNamara remains in a coma in hospital after a fall on Thursday.
The 37-year-old sustained a serious neck injury when he fell from Galaxy Rock at the first fence in the Kim Muir Chase. Racing was held up for half an hour as he was treated on the track. He was then airlifted to hospital in Bristol, where he was put into an induced coma.
He was expected to undergo surgury on a neck injury on Friday morning, reported The Times.
McNamara was not the only jockey to be taken to hospital on Thursday. Davy Russell was also hospitalised after suffering a punctured lung. He suffered the injury after being kicked when he fell in the second race.
However, his injury has added intrigue to the big race at 3.20pm, with champion jockey AP McCoy taking on Russell's ride for the Gold Cup, second favourite Sir Des Champs.
The Guardian reported that McCoy was immediately lined up to replace Davy after his injury but Sir Des Champs' trainer Willie Mullins was told he could not take the ride unless the jockey's previous mount, Sunnyhillboy, was withdrawn. Luckily for Mullins, Sunnyhillboy was scratched from the race this morning, freeing up McCoy to ride Sir Des Champs.
"There has been widespread comment on the convenience of Sunnyhillboy becoming a non-runner when there was no other way for McCoy to take the mount on Sir Des Champs, but Robin Mounsey of the British Horseracing Authority said that any suggestion of a link was purely speculative and without foundation," said the paper.
Despite the late change of jockey, the favourite for the Gold Cup remains Bobs Worth, the Nicky Henderson-trained horse, who comes from the same stable as Sprinter Sacre but is cut from different cloth.
"Sir Des Champs is plainly a danger and his jumping is likely to improve on this ground, drier than he has been racing on so far this winter. But the quality of his Festival wins does not match those of Bobs Worth," said Guardian tipster Chris Cook. ·