- February 13, 2015
13th February 2015
A privilege to ride against AP McCoy
I was at Newbury on Saturday when AP announced he was going to retire and I must admit I was shocked.
There’s been speculation about when he might retire for some time, but it was still a shock.
I know he has another three months to go, but I think he has done it the right way. He is too big a name just to do it on the day and he can now enjoy three incredible months.
Ever since I’ve followed racing he has been champion jockey and I’ve grown up watching him. He’s always been my hero. I’ve been very privileged to ride against him on a daily basis. What he has done for the sport will never be matched. He’s brought racing to another level. He’s also influenced how jockeys ride today – he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t smoke and he’s the ultimate professional.
He’d never turn down a ride and he’s also adapted his own style with the times at a level everyone else is aspiring to be at. He’s brought fitness, diet, strength and knowledge to a different level.
He knows not only the horse he is on, but also the form of every horse in the race too to give him the best possible chance of winning. He’s the ultimate professional and racing has been privileged to have him and we’ll all miss him.
There was some very good racing at Newbury. The two stand out performance were Coneygree who won the Denman Chase. He certainly deserves to go for the Gold Cup. Vibrato Valtat winning the Kingmaker was also an exceptional performance.
Joshua Moore won the big race of the day, the Betfair Hurdle, but he didn’t get any recognition really as the focus by that time was on AP!
Today I head to Fakenham, a round trip of nearly 500 miles, for two rides - Like Minded in the three-mile novice chase and then I ride Changeofluck for Lawney Hill in the three mile novices’ handicap hurdle. He ran well last time but he looks to have Medieval Chapel to beat.
On Saturday, the action switches to Wincanton which stages its prestigious Kingwell Hurdle meeting. I was lucky enough to win the Kingwell last year on Melodic Rendezvous. Other previous winners include Zarkandar and Binocular and it’s a race well worth watching for future clues.
I’m hoping to win this again on Irving for Paul Nicholls and I think everything will suit him. At Kempton he had an abscess in his foot which was the reason for his disappointing run. If he can bring the same level form he had when he won the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle he’ll be very hard to beat.
The card is sponsored by Bathwick Tyres whose owners, Wayne and Sarah Clifford, are good friends of mine. They put so much into jump and flat racing, and deserve every bit of recognition they get.
Talking of Melodic Rendezvous, I was over the moon with him at Exeter and his jumping had much improved from Bangor. The winner, Southfield Theatre, who now heads straight for the RSA at the Festival, won well, but there is a lot of improvement to come from Melodic Rendezvous. It was only his second run over fences and he really impressed me. He will come on a lot for the run and it is great that he’s back on track.
It was a relief that Hadden Frost was ok after his fall and Sam Twiston-Davies too, although his nose is still double the size and he’s got two black eyes.
There are good cards at Haydock and Ascot tomorrow, with the former featuring the grade two Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the three mile Rendelsham.
At Ascot there’s the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase where Paul runs the novice Ptit Zig. He’s taking on older horses, but he’s done nothing wrong and I think he has a massive chance at the Festival in the JLT and to my mind he’s the best novice two and a half miler around.