McCoy may miss the ride on Ballyalton in Newbury's Challow Hurdle
By Ian Ogg. Last Updated: 19/12/13 4:56pm
Ballyalton (white cap): May require a new jockey
Ballyalton is set to have a new jockey in the saddle if lining up in the Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury.
The promising six year old is a 16/1 chance with the sponsors for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and a general 10/1 favourite in the ante-post lists for the longer Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Ballyalton earned those quotes with a battling defeat of Garde La Victoire at Cheltenham earlier in the month, a victory which led trainer Ian Williams to pinpoint Newbury's Challow Hurdle as a possible target.
The Tolworth was also mentioned as an option by the Worcestershire handler but if he opts for Newbury then he could be on the lookout for a new big race jockey to replace Tony McCoy who has been aboard the last twice.
Writing for www.cheltenham.co.uk, the Champion Jockey revealed that he may be required to ride elsewhere.
"Ian Williams has mentioned the Tolworth and Challow Hurdles as possible targets [for Ballyalton], but I will most probably be at Leopardstown when the Challow is on so that isn't much good to me, but you have to do right by the horse and go for the most suitable target," he said.
"He is a really nice type of horse. I have to admit I did have a slight concern with him dropping back to two miles having won over two and three-quarters previously at Newcastle, so to win a steadily-run race beating a horse like Garde La Victoire was a good performance.
"He obviously stays well and is a chaser in the making but he has made a good start to his hurdling career. He won well at Uttoxeter but didn't beat much that day but he has beaten progressive novices the last twice in Garde La Victoire and Oscar Rock and he is definitely high up the pecking order of novices," McCoy added.
McCoy is not the only jockey to have ridden Ballyalton in the horse's six-race career with Harry Skelton the man in the plate for the Pierre gelding's first three starts before Will Kennedy took over the reins at Uttoxeter in October.
Skelton now rides predominantly for his brother, Dan, which could leave Kennedy in the box seat having ridden more horses for Williams than any jockey other than promising conditional Robert McCarth during the current campaign.