EVEN the most resilient of Tony McCoy’s weighing room collleagues could have been forgiven for producing a sick note.
But he characteristically rode through the intense pain from a bone crunching fall hours earlier, his visible discomfort heightened by giving away a second championship race in two days, writes John Hoskins.
McCoy, who forged his English career under the guidance of Hampshire trainer Toby Balding, opted to ride At Fisher’s Cross for his boss, J P McManus, in the World Hurdle – but again Barry Geraghty benfitted from riding the supposed second string. On Tuesday, it was Jezki who thwarted McCoy in the Champion Hurdle – yesterday the ironically named More Of That in the distinctive green and gold colours of McManus surged past him up the demanding Cheltenham hill.
The expected major clash between Annie Powser and Big Buck’s never materialised as the old champion buckled as they turned into the straight, with trainer Paul Nicholls immediately announcing he had run his last race at the scene of his greatest triumphs.
McCoy however did ride his 199th winner of the season in the JLT Novices Chase when Taquin Du Seuil won a war of attrition with Uxizandre and was then in part grateful and in part apologetic to McManus for letting him off his runner-up to ride Jonjo O'Neill’s 25th festival success.
This was always going to be the day when Hampshire trainers mounted their weakest challenge, Emma Lavelle’s Off The Ground performing best with a bold display in the novice chase until he screwed on landing at the second last and came home last of the finishers.
Jockey Aiden Coleman said: “He jumped and travelled beautifully but the hill caught him out slightly and he would prefer a flatter track.”
Paul Henderon’s maiden Captin Ocana ran as his odds predicted and was toiling before halfway. Chris Gordon saddled King Edmund in the two mile, four mile handicap chase but dropped out of contention on a course that does not suit him. He will be seen to better advantage in the Topham Trophy at Aintree next month.