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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL: Wiltshire-based McCoy rides through the pain barrier
To anyone who saw AP McCoy on St Patrick’s Thursday, they would have seen a man limping in pain, but also a true professional riding through it.
McCoy is not averse to riding injured, he has done it plenty of times before, but it was clear the 39-year-old was heavily bruised from his fall on Wednesday.
The Northern Irishman put pain to one side as he rode Taquin De Seuil to victory in the opening race of the day.
A lesser jockey may not have ridden the finish he did up the hill, coaxing every last bit of energy and focus out of his mount to sneak past the Alan King-trained outsider Uxizandre, who had run a brilliant race.
The Champion Jockey, recording his first winner of this year’s Festival, and the 30th Festival win of his career, felt guilty for denying his boss JP McManus, who owns Uxizandre, the victory but was pleased for trainer Jonjo O’Neill.
“I’m very pleased to ride this winner for Jonjo, and disappointed to have beaten my boss [McManus]. He very kindly let me off to ride this fellow because we thought he had a very good chance,” he said.
“I was very sore last night and was struggling earlier today, but not as sore as Bryan Cooper [who broke his leg on Wednesday].
“He [Taquin De Seuil] is tough and has lots of experience. He had a bit of luck on the way round because other horses fell around him. I knew he might idle in front so I was mindful of that, but he battled well.”
Besides the physical pain, also playing on McCoy’s mind would have been the memory that exactly one year previously his good friend JT McNamara had suffered a serious fall, in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
McCoy may not have had the Festival he has hoped for, with just one winner and passing up the opportunity to ride the winners in the Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle.
However, he will count himself lucky that he was even able to attend the racecourse today, unlike JT who is still paralysed a year on.
Current Champion Trainer, Nicky Henderson has also not had as many winners as he would have hoped for.
Coming close on the opening day with three seconds, and bagging one victory on Wednesday, Henderson was to have nothing better than two third-places on Thursday. Both of those came from amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, aboard Rajdhani Express and Roberto Goldback.
The feature race of the day, The Ladbrokes World Hurdle, was mostly billed as a two-horse race, between Big Buck’s and Annie Power.
However, it was to be the Jonjo O’Neill-trained More Of That who maintained his unbeaten run, storming home to a surprise win.
Once a superb horse, and winner of the race on four occasions, Big Buck’s could only manage fifth place this time, and was subsequently retired by trainer Paul Nicholls.
The favourite, Annie Power, ran a good race, but was beaten by a better horse, and finished second.
David Pipe also had notable success on day three, scoring a double with Dynaste and Ballynagour.
The final day of the Festival will attract the biggest crowds, and excitement is building ahead of the Betfred Gold Cup. Nicky Henderson trains the favourite, Bobs Worth, who won the race last year, and Grand National hopeful Triolo D’Alene.
The Seven Barrows’ trainer will be hoping that his time will come on day four, and with those two horses representing him, among other well-fancied contenders in the racecard, it is more than likely.
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