McCoy’s departure almost triggers more questions than answers
24 April 2015
Racing amphitheatre Sandown Park is the location of the final scenes of an historic career; the curtains will gently fall on the flawless and impeccable career of one AP McCoy. Saturday promises to be a day of celebration and sadness; an emotional rollercoaster.
Media attention will be at its peak, news crews will be swarming for a sound bite and the last shots in competition of our hero.
There are many things to ponder. For example I spent most of Friday trying to digest where the last 20 years have gone, let alone try to condense a description of AP McCoy into an allotted minute!
Mr Mole and Box Office could well be backed off the boards. I type hesitantly as the expected deluge didn’t materialise on Shutthefrontdoor on Grand National day. Two last bad results bookmakers have to ride, but I doubt they’d begrudge him either or perhaps even both.
They will miss him, despite most of his wins being liabilities as he increased interest and thus, turnover. He was one of the few who brought racing from the back pages to the front. Who is going to do that now in jump racing?
Frankie Dettori’s renaissance is a relief to the Flat and his four wins on Friday were a joy to watch. He can appreciate the challenges that AP McCoy has conquered.
Who is going to be the first call to wear the green and gold hoops of JP McManus? That announcement is surely imminent.
Who is going to be next season’s Champion Jumps Jockey, and how many winners will they ride? Who is going to step into the breach of the go-to man for the punters?
Will his retirement see a drop in betting turnover? What impact will it have on column inches afforded to racing? Because of his knack of making the impossible plausible, the stories had to be reflected in the print for all to read.
Will AP be in the Sports Personality of the Year shortlist? What will AP do next?
All will unravel in due course as the man who created history draws to a close his final chapter.
Oh, by the way, there is the Celebration Chase named in the great man’s honour and the Bet365 Gold Cup on at Sandown.
If it doesn’t hit a driver, putter or fairway iron I’m struggling to back a winner at present and I’m loathed to blame the ground at Sandown on Friday. Instead I’ve tried to scour through the 20 names of the 3.50 and Guess Again along with Grand Jesture appeal as the biggest dangers to Le Reve, who hasn’t really put a hoof wrong all season.
Argocat could be well placed in the 2.35, while I’m in the camp daring to go against Mr Mole in the Celebration Chase - told you I’m way off the mark at the moment. I waited for Special Tiara to turn up at Aintree but he has waited to target this, with Somersby doing the same. Oh and there is the small matter of Sprinter Sacre in the line up, too!
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday tips:
3.15 Sandown: Special Tiara at 7-2 generally available
3.50 Sandown: Le Reve at 9-1 Bet Victor and Paddy Power
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday Pointers:
The last clear favourite to win the Bet365 Gold Cup is Mr Frisk in 1990, Docklands Express 1991 and Beau 2000 were co-favourites when they won.
Nine last ten winners of the Bet365 Gold Cup had been off the course no longer than 46 days. (Le Reve has been off for 63 days).
Fifteen of the last 20 winners carried less than 11 stone
Only three of the last ten winners had a win in their last four runs.
Fifteen of the last 20 winners were aged nine or younger.
Only two favourites have won the Celebration Chase in the last eleven years.
Paul Nicholls has won five Celebration Chases.
AP McCoy has won three Celebration Chases.
AP McCoy has ridden Mr Mole 13 times to seven wins and two seconds.
The last ten winners of the Celebration Chase were aged nine or younger.
Somersby has had four races at Sandown, winning one and second in three.
Sam Twiston-Davies has ridden Vibrato Valtat seven times to three wins, two seconds and a third.
Rebel Rebellion has had five races at Sandown winning two, third twice.
Only two of the last ten favourites have won