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Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Tony McCoy to ride Denman in Gold Cup at Cheltenham

Tony McCoy
McCoy will debut on Denman at the Aon Chase next Saturday

Tony McCoy has been called up to ride Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 14-times champion jockey has been given the ride as Ruby Walsh, trainer Paul Nicholls' first choice, has stayed loyal to stablemate Kauto Star.

McCoy, 35, has never ridden Denman but will be at the helm for the Aon Chase at Newbury next Saturday ahead of the Gold Cup ride on 19 March.

"I am delighted to be riding Denman and I can't wait to take on Ruby on Kauto Star," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"On Friday night, I went to bed dreaming of Gold Cups."

Denman's joint owner Paul Barber said: "In fairness to Paul Nicholls, we had to lay the ghost.

"I'm sure Ruby would have wanted another four weeks to decide, but we have reached our decision - McCoy rides."

Denman has only ever been ridden under Nicholls by three riders - Walsh, Christian Williams and Sam Thomas.

Thomas was on board when Denman triumphed at the Gold Cup in 2008, beating Kauto Star - who created history regaining the trophy last year, beating Denman into second - by seven lengths on that occasion.


He was also jockey when Denman fell at Aintree last spring, but McCoy has been given the nod to go up against Walsh and Kauto Star this time.

"We know that to be taking on Ruby on Kauto Star, we need to have a jockey who is at least his equal," said Barber. "We wouldn't want a situation where we were theoretically giving away several pounds.

"You can't do that if you want to win a Gold Cup."

Denman, who was found to be suffering with an irregular heartbeat following his 2008 win at Cheltenham, has seen his stock rise again in recent months after his remarkable success in November's Hennessy Gold Cup.

And Barber, co-owner with professional gambler Harry Findlay, said: "He jumped magnificently earlier in the week. He is in tremendous form."

McCoy, who secured his 3,000th jumps winner last February, claimed the Gold Cup in 1997 aboard the Noel Chance-trained Mr Mulligan, but has only managed a best finish since of second on board Exotic Dancer, behind Kauto Star, in 2007.

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see also
Zeb back on track for Cheltenham
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Denman set for warm-up at Newbury
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Imperial Commander lands Gold Cup
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Kauto backed for Cheltenham glory
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Denman storms to Gold Cup victory
14 Mar 08 |  Horse Racing
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