TONY McCOY, who has spent a few days in Dubai, giving his battered body time to recover from a succession of falls, returns to action at the start of Grand National week at Hexham today and can immediately return to winning form.
The legendary jockey rides three horses for Donald McCain, standing-in for stable jockey Jason Maguire, who is currently sidelined with serious internal injuries after a fall at Stratford on the eve of the Chetlenham Festival.
McCoy can make an instant impact in Northumberland by winning the opening SIS Novices' Hurdle on Volcanic. The French recruit scored by a wide margin on his debut for McCain at Carlisle last month and looks the type to defy a penalty.
There is a question mark about McCoy's mount, Tonvadosa, in the Chollerford Novices' Hurdle.
The six-year-old has not been seen out since trailing home well beaten at Haydock in December. That, however, was a Listed race and Tonvadosa is back into more manageable company this afternoon. She has won three of her five career starts and has only to return to something like her best to take all the beating.
Never Never runs in the second division of the Hexham For Tourists National Hunt Flat Race and is fancied to complete a productive day for McCoy and McCain. Previously trained by Ted Walsh, the gelding finished in the frame in two of his three races in Ireland and was a decent second at Leopardstown on his latest start. He should go well.
Sue Smith, who aims to saddle both Mr Moonshine and Vintage Star in the Grand National, which she won last year with 66-1 shot Auroras Encore, has good prospects of getting on the Hexham scoreboard with Persian Herald.
The six-year-old is a consistent performer and there was plenty to like about his close-up second at Newcastle last time when he went down by less than a length to Rhymers Stone.
Also worthy of consideration are Samson Collonges (3.10), who has gained all his three wins on this course, and Bollin Fiona (4.10), who was denied by inches on her latest visit here three weeks ago.
On the Flat at Kempton, Newmarket trainer John Ryan, who won Saturday's Lincoln Handicap with 20-1 shot Ocean Tempest, can follow-up with Thecornishcockney in the BetVictor Conditions Stakes.
Like Ocean Tempest, Thecornishcockney has spent the winter in Dubai. He will be more at home back here, where he has two course wins to his his credit and he should give Adam Kirby, who partnered Ocean Tempest, with a good ride.
Sir Michael Stoute can take the opening honours with four-year-old maiden Arab Spring (2.30), who showed a deal of promise on his only start at Newmarket last season, while Minstrels Gallery is awarded the nap vote in the BetVictor Handicap.
Trained by Lucy Wadham, the five-year-old came good with some authority at Lingfield a couple of weeks ago when winning by three lengths. The handicapper has responded by raising him 6lb, which is not excessive. He is napped to follow-up with Robert Tart again taking the mount.
Dutiful Son (4.30) is selected to complete a hat-trick of Kempton wins for Newmarket trainer Jeremy Noseda, while Byron Gala (5.30), although a beaten favourite last time out at Wolverhampton, deserves another chance in handicap company.
2.30 Arab Spring, 3.00 Minstrels Gallery (NAP), 3.30 Adiynara, 4.00 Morgans Bluff, 4.30 Dutiful Son, 5.00 Thecornishcockney, 5.30 Byron Gala.
2.10 Volcanic, 2.40 Tonvadosa, 3.10 Samson Collonges, 3.40 Persian Herald, 4.10 Bollin Fiona, 4.40 Indigo Island, 5.10 Redlakani, 5.40 Never Never.
Today’s other meeting: Plumpton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Kempton, Newton Abbot and Southwell.