McCoy to be honoured at final Cheltenam Festival

The last race of the Cheltenham Festival has been renamed to mark AP McCoy’s final opportunity to ride at the meeting following his decision to retire towards or at the end of the season, and he is 6/1 with Coral to go out in a blaze of glory on his likely mount and heavily-backed ante post favourite Ned Buntline.

The record-breaking feats of the 19-time champion Jump jockey are recognised in the AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase for the Johnny Henderson Challenge Cup, which is due off at 5.15pm on Friday, March 13th.

The new name for 2015 has been made in agreement with the Henderson family and is for one year.

The jockey said: “I am honoured that Cheltenham has decided to have the last race of The Festival in my name. It is a privilege and I would also like to thank the Henderson family for sharing the title for this year. I am much looking forward to next week.”

McCoy, set to be champion Jump jockey for the 20th consecutive season, has ridden 191 winners to date at Cheltenham.

That total includes 30 at the Festival which makes McCoy the third most successful jockey ever at the event that this year runs from Tuesday, March 10th to Friday, March 13th.
Robert Waley-Cohen, Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to rename this year’s Grand Annual Handicap Chase after the champion jockey, especially as it will be his last race at The Festival.

“What he has achieved over the past 23 years, not just at The Festival, is phenomenal and to round off The Festival in his name seemed like a fitting tribute.”

McCoy has been successful in the race three times on Alderwood (2013), Edredon Bleu (1998) and Kibreet (1996) who was his first winner at the Festival.

The JP McManus-owned Ned Buntline finished runner-up in the contest 12 months ago and looks to have been laid out to go one better by top Irish trainer Noel Meade.

The seven-year-old was arguably given too much to do in last year’s renewal when staying on strongly to be beaten just over a length by Savello and is due to race off just 2lb higher this time round.

Ned Buntline has been all the rage since the weight were revealed for the extended 2m contest, and is now the 6/1 favourite with Coral having opened up at 10s.