Sunday 21 January 2018

Niall Cronin

TOMORROW'S fixture at Sandown will be a strange one in many ways. Despite announcing his retirement a number of months ago, the actual sight of AP McCoy having his final ride on the racecourse will be a strange one as he has dominated the sport at the very highest level for over 20-years and brought a new household name into the world of racing.

On the same horse that McCoy rode his 200th winner of the season on and declared his intention to retire this year, Mr Mole could again play a significant role in the final chapter of McCoy's riding career.


It is on the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old that McCoy will bid to win his final Grade One and possibly his final race as a win on him may even prompt the Antrim native to give up his remaining ride on the card and finish there and then.

The pair will have a field of six rivals to beat including a former Champion Chase winner in Sprinter Sacre who on another occasion would have been the headline act if running at this meeting.

Nicky Henderson's one time stable star produced one of the finest performances by any horse in a championship race in the history of the sport when he was at the height of his powers but now his future in training hangs in some doubt after a troubled time which last saw him pulled up in the Champion Chase last month.

Nobody would begrudge McCoy bowing out on a high by winning the Celebration Chase which sponsors Bet365 have named in his honour but racing hasn't always been one to follow a script and his fellow jockeys who have so much admiration for the man won't be giving an inch for the sake of a fairytale.

But it has been a strange time for this sport and if anything recent stories that have dominated racing pages prove why McCoy is right to retire now with nothing left to prove.

Serious injuries suffered by two of our most talented riders in Robbie McNamara and Davy Condon have put a lot of things into perspective of late and nobody more than McCoy will appreciate that he is getting out of the sport having achieved so much but most importantly he'll walk away on his terms.

The inspirational determination shown by McNamara in an interview earlier this week was followed yesterday by Condon's announcement that he has been forced to retire and on the eve of celebrating McCoy's career that also has to be put very much into context.

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