Tony McCoy caught the racing world by surprise when he marked his 200th winner of the season by announcing his plans to retire.
Considered to be indestructible, the amount of injuries he has suffered have finally taken their toll. The decision to bow out at the top - and while still in the one piece - was taken.
In a remarkable career McCoy has amassed over 4,000 winners. He is also heading for a 20th jockeys’ title, a feat that will never be equalled nevermind surpassed.
He made what was probably his final appearance at Leopardstown on Sunday a profitable one, recording a brace that included the featured Grade One Hennessy Gold Cup aboard J.P. McManus’s Carlingford Lough.
Twice a Grade One winner as a novice, the Milan gelding also has a Galway Plate success to his credit. He was well supported in what looked a very open contest but one of the highest calibre, with the first and second in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup in opposition as as well as the recent Leopardstown chase winner Foxrock.
Ruby Walsh elected to ride On His Own and went to post the favourite. He proceeded to make the early running, with Carlingford Lough held up in touch.
Turning for home there were a few in with a chance, but McCoy stole up the inside to hit the front after the final fence, running all the way to the line where he had three-parts of a length to spare over Foxrock. Lord Windermere running his best race for some time, was third some eight lengths adrift.
This was a victory that looked unlikely going down the back straight as McCoy was niggling his mount along. However he came alive from the third last fence and now must be considered as a Gold Cup candidate.
In his post race remarks the winning trainer was non-committal about the next step, leaving that decision with McManus and racing manager Frank Berry, but the Gold Cup looks a wide open contest this year. Carlingford Lough is well entitled to take his chance as he will relish the final punishing climb to the winning post.
McCoy and McManus had earlier visited the winners circle when Sort It Out justified strong support in the two mile 109-127 handicap hurdle.
Took it all in his stride
Shouldering a 9lb hike in the weights for his Punchestown victory in December, and dropping back in trip, the six-year-old took it all in his stride as he came from off the pace to jump the last hurdle in front and win comfortably by an extended six lengths from Fort Smith.
It was a nostalgic Eddie Harty who welcomed back the winner, t elling all and sundry that it was his father of the same name who got McCoy his first job in England with Toby Balding - the rest, as they say, is history.
Willie Mullins saddled the first two home in the opening Grade One Juvenile Hurdle, but not in the expected order as Petite Parisienne outpointed stable companion Kalkir after a good scrap.
Owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House, Petite Parisienne was up to Listed level in her native France and shaped well when second on her hurdling debut at Punchestown.
Given time to find her feet by jockey Brian Cooper, she got into contention heading towards the home straight. At this point Kalkir had taken over but Paris Parisienne was in full flight.
Jumping the final hurdle in front, she ran all the way to the line where she had a length and threeparts to spare over Kalkir. Both horses will be on the Mullins team for the Triumph Hurdle and will be well in contention.
Mullins had a similar story in the Grade One Novice Hurdle when the apparent second-string Nicholas Canyon, under Ruby Walsh, proved three and a half lengths too good for the Dermot Weld representative Windsor Park.
This is a trace that has produced the last two winners of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in Vautour and Champagne Fever. There is every reason to expect that Nicholas Canyon, in spite of his lack of inches, will be there or thereabouts.