Tony McCoy believes Carlingford Lough “has a live chance” when the partnership takes aim at the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.
The soon-to-be-retired jockey also had the option of riding Holywell in the great race, but McCoy will instead keep faith with John Kiely’s nine-year-old, who excelled in the Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown earlier this month.
McCoy blogged on www.thejockeyclub.co.uk: “My final Cheltenham Festival as a jockey is now just three weeks away and I couldn’t be happier to say that Carlingford Lough will be my ride in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“So long as trainer John Kiely and JP McManus (owner) are happy with his condition then I will be aboard him on March 13.
“He gave me a great feel winning the Irish Hennessy and I am very much looking forward to riding him in the Gold Cup, if he lines up.
“Gold Cup day is probably the most important day of the whole jumping year and I am hoping he has got a live chance.
“People might look back to last year and point out he was only sixth in the RSA but he never really got into a rhythm and we saw more of what he was capable of when he won the Grade One at Punchestown.
“John Kiely has the horse in great shape and he is definitely going there with a chance.
“My other possible ride was Holywell and he was right back to form at Kelso last Thursday.
“It wasn’t much of a race but he travelled well and jumped better as the race went on.
“The way the horse improves through this time of the year he is definitely a Gold Cup contender, that is for sure.”