Friday 17 November 2017

It's like AP McCoy never quit as he sees off rivals in Legends race

Retired jockey returns to saddle and sees off rivals in Legends

Tony McCoy before riding Gannicus to victory in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes during day one of the 2015 Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse, Doncaster
Tony McCoy before riding Gannicus to victory in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes during day one of the 2015 Ladbrokes St Leger Festival at Doncaster Racecourse, Doncaster

He vows never to return again but if this was to be AP McCoy's final cameo appearance as a jockey it was one that will be remembered fondly.

Three months after hanging up his whip, AP McCoy returned to racing at Doncaster yesterday to ride in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Stakes and it was as if he was never away as he guided the 7/2 favourite Gannicus to a two-length success for his old ally Brendan Powell.

McCoy was always up near the head of the field throughout the race with the horse travelling strongly and although challenges came from Kevin Darley on Fidelma Moon and then Luke Harvey aboard Big Storm Coming and Billy Newnes, who was slightly wider on Next Stop, McCoy was always in control and the dream result for those involved in putting the race together was never in doubt.

Many had hoped that McCoy would battle out the finish with Johnny Murtagh, who also took part ,but despite heading McCoy's mount Gannicus in the betting for a short period before the off, Commissar was never travelling during the race and Murtagh finished down the field in 11th.


Despite admitting before the race how much he enjoys riding horses, McCoy was adamant that there won't be another quick return to action and that only JP McManus would be able to persuade him to do something similar in the future.

McCoy reflected afterwards: "Everything went to plan, although it always does when you win.

"He travelled and we know he stays well. I'm having a bit of a blow now but it's for a great cause."

The race is run to raise money for the Northern Racing College and the Injured Jockeys Fund's Jack Berry House and the former champion jockey paid credit to Berry for all his work.

"Fair play to Jack Berry. He's done all the hard work and the Injured Jockeys' Fund is benefiting, but Jack bullied me into it.

"That's definitely it now unless JP tells me I've got to ride for him!"

The winning trainer Brendan Powell had teamed up with McCoy on many occasions in the past and admitted afterwards that yesterday's winner was up there with his biggest as a trainer.

"It's all worked out great. That's the 46th winner he has ridden for me now.

"This horse won at Brighton for Jenny (Powell's daughter), but the handicapper only put 1lb on him, which meant we could just scrape into this.

"He's not been in a competitive race like this and he was probably in front soon enough, but one crack from AP is about the equivalent of six from Jenny and it made his mind up.

"It's great for Jack's charity and this has given me a lot of pleasure. It's nearly as good as the winners in Dubai."

A charity auction afterwards included the saddle that McCoy used on what is likely to be his final ride and that fetched £15,000.

Jack Berry said: "It couldn't have worked out any better. To do it on a horse for one of his best friends is great and I must give my thanks to Fred Done (bookmaker) who has bid £15,000 for the saddle AP used today."

Johnny Murtagh said afterwards; "That was great.

"It was good to be back, good to be back in the weighing room at least. I knew my fate three out, I was going backwards from there. I'm sweating a bit at the moment so I don't know if I can do many more of these. I've never sweated so much after a race in my life."

At The Races presenter and former jockey Luke Harvey had enjoyed a friendly war of words with McCoy in the lead-up to the race and was delighted to have finished third.

"Funnily enough, with a furlong to run, I thought I'd pull across and track AP as I'd said to him from the start - because my horse was called Big Storm Coming - that just when you think you've won, wait for the big storm coming!" Harvey said.

"AP was laughing as we pulled up and said 'where did you finish Leglock?' and I told him I was third just behind him.

"It was fantastic, a brilliant cause and great fun.

"I know we all used to do this day in, day out, but doing this sort of thing gives you a real kick and you realise just how much you miss it."

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