Poignant return to action for Kerry National winner White Star Line

Tony McCoy has ruled out any notion of retirement when he reaches 4,000 career wins over jumps. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Tony McCoy has ruled out any notion of retirement when he reaches 4,000 career wins over jumps. Photograph: Chris Ison/PA Wire

Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 01:55

White Star Line runs for the first time since the death of owner Patsy Byrne in the Wilderness Chase at Clonmel today.

The nine-year-old won the Kerry National at Listowel in September, but Byrne died suddenly a few weeks later.

Trainer Dessie Hughes admits he will be sorely missed when White Star Line returns to the track. The Co Kildare handler said: “I suppose we’ll be thinking of Patsy. It was very sad what happened, he was a very popular man.”

Although Hughes expressed some concerns about the two-and-a-half-mile trip, he hopes White Star Line can develop into a National horse this season.

He said: “This looked an easy opportunity for him, so we were keen to run. You would hope that his class would shine through, although the trip might be a bit short.

“He’d always shaped like he had a performance like his last one in him and we always hoped it would all come good in a big race somewhere along the line.

“Now he’s won one I suppose we can start thinking of something like the Becher at Aintree over three-mile-two.

“After that I suppose he’d probably be a National horse so we’d have to mind his mark a little — although he’s only rated 143 now so we could maybe do with winning another just to make sure he gets in.”

Tony McCoy has ruled out any notion of retirement when he reaches 4,000 career wins over jumps.

“I want to be able to retire at the top and if I am going to do that, it will mean retiring when I am champion jockey. That won’t be easy.”

McCoy still requires nine winners to reach the 4,000 mark but was out of luck at Carlisle yesterday on his two rides and heads to Stratford today where he has three booked rides.