Youlneverwalkalone out of bumper race

 

Youlneverwalkalone, one of the leading Irish hopes at Cheltenham next month, is definitely out of the Festival Bumper.

The Christy Roche-trained five-year-old had won his only start in great style at Leopardstown in December and was 5 to 1 favourite with Coral for the Prestbury Park contest. Roche, who described him as a doubtful starter after working on Monday, has decided not to risk the J P McManus-owned gelding.

"He's just got a little bit of a problem," Roche said. "It's nothing serious but we wouldn't have him ready in time and we'll give Punchestown a miss as well.

"Our intention was just to give him two races and this setback has made our minds up so he will be put away for a few months now."

Bookmakers Sean Graham have installed Golden Alpha the new 11 to 2 favourite for the Festival Bumper.

Coral reacted to the news by making Alexander Prize, Golden Alpha and Biliverdin their 6 to 1 co-favourites.

Give It A Holly is next best in Coral's list at 8 to 1, with Mr Lamb and Kildash Castle 14 to 1 chances.

"Youlneverwalkalone was a popular order at 8 to 1 when we opened betting two weeks ago and was backed into 5-1 before today's news," reported Coral's spokesman Simon Clare.

Meanwhile, champion jockey Tony McCoy was taken to hospital for X-rays after a crashing fall at Ludlow yesterday. However, it was later confirmed by a hospital spokesperson that the jockey had suffered no serious injuries.

McCoy's mount, the Martin Pipe-trained Northern Drums, was in the lead when coming down at the first fence in the Rod Traylor Plumbing Novice Chase and the jockey endured a sea of flailing hooves as the remainder of the field galloped over his body with at least one of the runners appearing to kick him.

McCoy lay agonisingly motionless while attended by medics and was stretchered off the track before being ambulanced back to the course medical room.

It emerged the injury was not as serious as first thought and McCoy may have survived with a badly bruised right leg. But he was eventually taken to Hereford Hospital for precautionary X-rays.

"It'll take more than that to keep me away from the Cheltenham Festival," grimaced McCoy as he put a brave face on the injury while being stretchered into the ambulance to take him to hospital.

The race was eventually won by Circus Star, partnered by Richard Johnson, who had four lengths to spare over Charming Girl.

To make matters worse McCoy missed out on a winner when Ballysicyos proved a clear-cut victor of the second division of the Ash Novices' Hurdle in the hands of substitute Timmy Murphy.

The ex-French gelding was having his first outing for Pipe and was never in any danger in the home straight as he stretched 17 lengths clear of Nemisto. He will run in either the Triumph Hurdle or the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham next month.