Cheltenham Festival 2015: Can McCoy bow out in style?
Today signals the last time that racegoers will see legendary jockey AP McCoy in action at the Festival, and the 19-times champ will be hoping for a fairytale ending in the Gold Cup (15.20) aboard the progressive Carlingford Lough.
McCoy is going for his third win in the blue riband event having triumphed aboard Mr Mulligan (1997) and Synchronised (2012).
Like Synchronised, Carlingford Lough carries the famous gold and green colours of owner JP McManus.
McManus has retained McCoy to ride since 2004, and the pair are great friends who have enjoyed some terrific times in what has been a formidable partnership.
It will be fitting if the John Kiely trained Carlingford Lough cand land the spoils, and the nine-year-old comes into the contest on the back of a career-best performance when winning the Irish Hennessy.
The gelding is a dour stayer who needs nudging and cajoling into his races, will handle conditions, and if it comes to a battle won’t be found wanting for lacks of guts.
McCoy also sports the McManus colours on Hargam in the Triumph Hurdle which kicks-off proceedings (13.30).
The Nicky Henderson trained four-year-old is a progressive sort who has won his last two starts in good style, and will be bidding to give his handler a sixth success in the contest.
However, the rain which ahs hit the track this morning will not be in Hargam’s favour and his stable comanpion Peace And Co looks the one they all have to beat.
McManus has three live contenders in the ultra-competitive County Hurdle (14.05), and McCoy has chosen to partner Princely Conn over Sort It Out and Waxie’s Dargle.
Princely Conn is a likeable type who has had just four starts over hurdles – winning twice and finishing in the frame on the other two occasions – and looks to have a big each-way shout in a wide open contest.
The Harry Fry trained Fletchers Flyer is McCoy’s mount in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (14.40), but needs to step up on what he has shown so far to trouble the like of Black Hercules and No More Heroes who spearhead a strong Irish challenge for the 3m contest.
McCoy’s final ride at the Festival comes in the race named in his honour, the AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase (17.15), and his partner Ned Buntline looks to have been primed to land the spoils and provide him with the perfect send-off.
The gelding looked an unlucky loser when runner-up in the race 12 months ago, and the roof will be raised if McCoy can get the McManus owned seven-year-old to go one better.