Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wahiba Sands Can Be the Ascot Victor

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wahiba Sands Can Be the Ascot Victor

Article excerpt

Byline: LYDIA HISLOP

TONY McCoy's rare fitness battle has thrown betting for tomorrow's Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot into further turmoil.

At 50-50 to line up, ante-post favourite Young Devereux is perhaps the less likely participant. As one weighing-room colleague has put it, with little exaggeration: if McCoy's not dead, he'll ride.

Our six-time champion National Hunt jockey is chasing the record for a season's fastest double-century.

Poised on 199 since Tuesday, he must be passed fit by the attendant doctor if he's to ride at Huntingdon today. Amazingly in such a hazardous profession, McCoy last lost a day to injury on 31 January 2001.

But trainer Martin Pipe has already wondered aloud whether he'll need to find a deputy for Wahiba Sands in the Berkshire track's [pound]60,000 feature event.

McCoy's trio of falls at Newbury on Wednesday culminated with a kick to the head that required stitches.

He typically passed through the pain barrier to ride three times at Wincanton yesterday, without success, but gave up his remaining mounts on medical advice when his bruised neck became too stiff to bear.

The 27-year-old has until 18 February to beat his own current record for the fastest 200.

But he's intent on a modern miracle by beating Sir Gordon Richards' record of 269 winners in a season, set on the Flat in 1947. It had been thought that milestone could stand for all time. Now, incredibly, it looks vulnerable.

Wahiba Sands has already twice contributed to McCoy's tally this term, both at this same track.

The champion needed to be at his unrelenting best to register their latest triumph, reeling in a faltering Get Real by three-quarters of a length after getting outpaced two out.

Get Real has strict claims of reversal on 1lb better terms. But breathing problems contribute to his increasingly marked tendency for weak finishing and, aged 11, Nicky Henderson's chaser looks on a downward curve. …

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