Tony McCoy shines at Fairyhouse
AP lands double to bring wins tally to 4,345
FOR little other reasons than the man onboard, both Cantlow and Shutthefrontdoor find themselves favourite for two different Grand National' within the next week but if proof was needed as to why the man onboard is such a factor, we saw it yesterday on the opening day of the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.
This afternoon Paul Webber's Cantlow is likely to go off favourite for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, while on Saturday last year's Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor is odds on to be favourite when they are sent on their way around Aintree and although Tony McCoy's impending departure has a lot to do with it as he will be riding both, his rides on Sir Scorpion and Gilgamboa in races of varying values, proved just why he'll be missed by so many trainers, punters and the sports biggest owner, JP McManus.
McCoy's double on yesterday's card brought his tally of winners to an incredible 4,345 and the winning ride on Gilgamboa in the feature Ryanair Gold Cup was his 150th success in Ireland as he drove the McManus-owned and Enda Bolger trained seven-year-old to a memorable victory.
Bolger himself had won the race as a jockey in 1983 when riding Step Together to victory and was delighted to enjoy a winner with McCoy before he finishes his riding career.
"We've had a few rides together but that is AP's first winner for me and the first thing he said when he got down off him was that he was delighted to ride a winner for me which was very nice," Bolger said.
"I beat Frank Berry in the race in 1983 so that was a feather in my cap at the time and it's wonderful to win it today. He battled and the slow ground was a big help to him."
Gilgamboa held on from the rapidly finishing The Tullow Tank with the leading two both horses who didn't run at the Cheltenham Festival.
Bolger continued: "He was a bit sticky in his jumping early but when he warmed up and AP dug into him he really pulled it out. If we go to Punchestown it will be for the three mile Grade One otherwise that will be it for the season."
McCoy himself added: "It's great for Enda, he has always had a lot of belief I the horse - more than I had - and stepping up in trip was a big help to him.
"I don't see any reason why he can't get three-miles and he might be happier going left-handed and although the other horse was closing, my fella was pulling himself up in front."
The Fairyhouse crowd yesterday was a healthy 7,456 up from 7,030 last year and they gave McCoy a fitting reception when he returned on the McManus-owned Sir Scorpion and speaking on his decision to end his career at Sandown if he doesn't win next Saturday's Aintree Grand National McCoy added: "I'd be tempted to go to Punchestown but it won't be happening.
"I'd have loved to have ridden there but I've been lucky enough to be champion 20-times in Britain and the season there ends the previous week so to ride at Punchestown I'd have to get a licence and then I may as well go on to Galway so now is the right time."
Harry Fry enjoyed his first Grade One winner of his fledging career when Bitofapuzzle landed the Grade One Mares Novice Hurdle under Noel Fehily who will now enjoy a break before going over fences next season.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins enjoyed a double with Shaneshill easily obliging in the Grade Two novice hurdle and Castello Sforza won the concluding bumper to give the Sheikh Fahad headed Pearl Bloodstock a first winner in Ireland.
Shaneshill will go to Punchestown and of Castello Sforza he said; "If we go again it might be for the Curragh bumper but one run might be enough and Cheltenham next year is the aim, be it for the bumper or a novice hurdle."