Saturday will be AP McCoy’s final day of race riding before his retirement, he as yet without a ride in the big bet365 Gold Cup after his boss, JP McManus, pulled out both the Ante Post favourite Gallant Oscar and Cantlow at the five day declaration stage. The soon-to-be 20-time champion jockey will be trying to earn himself his third Sandown Gold Cup title after his success in 2002 aboard Bounce Back and his triumph on Hennessy in 2009.
Indeed there is very little that the Northern Irishman hasn’t won, this our opportunity to laud some of these biggest and most important victories.
Legal Steps – The First Winner
Quiz aficionados take note, Legal Steps was McCoy’s first ever winner back in 1992. The Northern Irishman was just 17 when taking the ride on Jim Bolger’s mount at Thurles on the flat. This 26th March triumph would come just three years prior to him being crown the champion conditional jockey (1994/5). He would win the professional equivalent every year since turning pro in the 1995/6 season.
Kilbreet – The First Cheltenham Festival Winner
Again, surely another one of those answers to those challenging pub quiz questions that should be sat on the end of your tongue. Kilbreet was McCoy’s first Festival winner in 1996. Phillip Hobbs’ nine-year-old took the Grand Annual in the trusty hands of McCoy, this the race that would be named in his honour in his last ever Cheltenham Festival meeting as a jockey in 2015.
The 7/1 shot was prominently ridden by the 21-year-old, taking the lead for the first time at the third from home and kicking clear to finish four lengths to the good of Henrietta Knight’s Easthorpe. Two years later, McCoy would ride Edredon Bleu to victory in the same race for Knight whilst Kilbreet would be the first and only (so far) winner for Hobbs.
Uxizandre – The Last Cheltenham Festival Winner
Of course, good money followed bad as McCoy took to the stage at his final Cheltenham Festival this year. The Northern Irishman would be sat on four unsuccessful favourites and would only manage to secure one final triumph at Prestbury Park. This came aboard Alan King’s largely unfancied Uxizandre in the Ryanair Chase.
A 16/1 shout, Uxizandre was confidently ridden from the off, the charge in the first-time visor making all to finish a comprehensive five lengths clear of mare Ma Filleule after finding even more than the grey in the later stages.
After twice leading Albertas Run to victory in the same race (2010, 2011), this would be McCoy’s third Ryanair winner and his 31st at the Gloucestershire Festival.
Don’t Push It – The First Grand National Winner
McCoy won the 2010 Grand National on Jonjo O’Neill’s Don’t Push It. It was the jockey’s 15th attempt at the race and by winning avoided equalling Jeff King’s record for the most rides around the course without victory. The 10/1 joint-favourite with Big Fella Thanks, who would take fourth, Don’t Push It’s triumph saw bookmakers across the country lose a combined total of £50million!
Following the race McCoy told the press, ‘If you get enough goes at something and you keep going … you’ve always got a chance’.
Something we can all surely learn from.