11/15/2013 8:47AM

Cheltenham: Paddy Power Gold Cup lures former U.S. flat racer Tap Night


CHELTENHAM, England. - Jockey A.P. McCoy, who became the first steeplechase jockey to surpass 4,000 career wins earlier this month, rides the American-bred Tap Night in Saturday’s $256,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham Racecourse, the first major race of the 2013-14 jump season.

Bred in Virginia by Edward Evans, Tap Night won a maiden race at Delaware Park and a $25,000 claimer at Belmont Park in 2010 when trained by Anthony Dutrow.

Tap Night, a 6-year-old gelding by Pleasant Tap, was sent to England in early 2011 and began his steeplechase career that summer. He has won 2 of 7 races over fences. McCoy has won 2 of 5 starts on Tap Night, who is now owned by J.P. McManus.

Trained by Lucinda Russell, Tap Night is part of a field of 20 in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, a handicap run over 2 5/8 miles.

The expected favorite is Champion Court, the winner of a Grade 2 handicap chase over 2 5/8 miles here in April, his most recent start. Champion Court, trained by Martin Keighley, is an 8-year-old Irish-bred gelding who has won 3 of 12 starts over fences.

There will be support for Ballynagour (trained by David Pipe) and Nadiya De La Vega (Nicky Henderson), both unraced since the spring. Nadiya De La Vega was third in the 2012 Paddy Power Gold Cup.