McCoy rates Crystal danger to Baracouda

TONY McCOY believes Crystal D’Ainay will be the horse to beat when he tries to help Baracouda land a third victory in the Telectronics Systems Long Walk Hurdle at Windsor on Saturday.

The pair had a real scrap at Newbury last month, when the great French horse just got the better of Alan King’s young pretender in the Long Distance Hurdle.

It was the first time the champion jockey had ridden the Francois Doumen-trained nine-year-old, and he feels the horse should be better this time, having had the benfit of a run.

“The two of them will probably fight it out again,” said McCoy.

“I was impressed with Baracouda’s first run. He got Crystal D’Ainay and he battled away, but it was his first run of the year and you would be hoping he would come on for it.

“I spoke to Mr Doumen on Saturday at Lingfield and he was very happy with him, but Crystal D’Ainay is an improver and is definitely the danger.”

The Grade One contest has been switched to Windsor this year with Ascot undergoing redevelopment, but McCoy does not think Baracouda will be unduly troubled by his first visit to the figure-of-eight Thamesside venue.

“Ascot would have been the ideal track for the Long Walk Hurdle, but he is not a slow horse, he has plenty of speed and he stays. He is the perfect racehorse really.”

Cashmans have received some decent bets on both Crystal D’Ainay (shortened from 7-1 into 4-1) and Rule Supreme (8-1 into 6-1).

Cashmans bet: 2-5 Baracouda, 4-1 Crystal D’Ainay, 6-1 Rule Supreme, 12-1 Sh Boom, 14-1 Ilnamar, 16-1 Telemoss, 20-1 It Takes Time, 33-1 Geos, 50-1 Kadara, Knock Down.

Meanwhile, the eagerly-awaited chasing debut of last season’s Stayers’ Hurdle hero Iris’s Gift has been put on hold again.

Though entered in novice chases at both Warwick and Windsor on Saturday, as well as Exeter on Thursday, his trainer Jonjo O’Neill was not satisfied with a piece of work yesterday.

“Iris’s Gift will not be seen out until after Christmas,” admitted a dejected O’Neill. “He’s been a bit quiet and worked flat, so it’s best to take things quietly with him.”

As low as 16-1 with the sponsors for the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, despite never having jumped a fence in public, Robert Lester’s seven-year-old grey has not been seen since chasing home stablemate Rhinestone Cowboy in the Ballymore Properties Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at Punchestown in April, but has made steady progress since returning to fitness.

Elsewhere, Tiutchev, runner-up to Edredon Bleu in the King George VI Chase at Kempton last year, it to make his seasonal reappearance in the same race.

Jerry Wright, spokesman for the Liars Poker Partnership, who own Tiutchev, said: “When we ran him in the King George last Christmas we rode him to get the trip.

“But now, following his win in the Martell Cup over three miles and a furlong at Aintree, we can be confident of him staying and be more aggressive with our tactics.

“He will have a very select campaign this winter and after Kempton it will be the new Daily Telegraph Chase at the Cheltenham Festival followed by another crack at the Martell Cup.”

Kingscliff continues to please trainer Robert Alner and remains on course to reappear in the King George.

The winner of the 2003 Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase has only had five starts over regulation fences, winning four before suffering a surprise defeat to Artic Jack on his final start in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock last January.

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