Tanya Stevenson
Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 14th February 2015

Racing UK

It Has Been a Privilege to Have You, Superhero McCoy

Having recently acquired the Marvel and DC Comics almanacs of superheroes I've a good mind to return them. 

AP McCoy
© Racehorse Photos

AP McCoy
There appears to be a glaring omission in one, if not both.

No room for AP McCoy!   

After we spent most of the last 20 years floundering for superlatives, most of which had been specially created for AP, and only AP, there must be a stark realisation that he is the nearest we will get to a superhero in our sport.  

On Saturday just as McCoy made the announcement of his intention to retire to Rishi Persad, which must rank as an 'I was there' moment, I suddenly felt a sense of isolation in the betting ring and at the same time also a sense of pride.

It was such a shame to see those rushing to either collect on the Game Spirit winner Mr Mole, or put their bets on for the Betfair Hurdle. Most on course were totally unaware of how monumental, significant and indeed historic the day had become.  

Even with all the social media platforms there was a period that this news hung in limbo, perhaps time itself was absorbing the enormity of the events it was carrying.  

Newbury announced the news after the presentation for the race, but it didn't seem to ring with those in attendance.  

Maybe it was disbelief or maybe they could not compute.  

We all knew it was coming, but predicting when it happened, and dealing with that, was always going to be the issue.

There was emotional paralysis for me, as I craved solitude to absorb the information, but there was no such luxury as events came hard up against a very busy betting race.

Since the events of Saturday I've allowed myself, and I hope you have too, a few private moments to reminisce, laugh and cry over some memories of the champ.  

His career has occupied just under half of my lifetime. I've been fortunate enough to experience the John Francome, Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody, Adrian Maguire and now McCoy eras and there is much to thank and appreciate.

What sets him apart from others is that he thinks and believes that what he does, and how he does it, is the norm.  

Add to that, he carries himself with such humility and modesty that his achievements form part of his character.  We all make excuses for our willpower failings but with McCoy there are no excuses.

His mind is an encyclopedic formbook spanning over 20 years, more precise and thorough than a handicapper’s database.  

He has, I'm sure, each horse nailed to the ounce, let alone the pound.  

He must know ever blade of grass on courses across Britain and Ireland. As a consequence of that, he is also intimate with the nuances and intricacies of each track, knowing how to save that crucial inch rather than length.  

I've experienced as a punter being for and against McCoy as a bookmaker. The latter is a battle that can't be won or at least it's very hard to win. Many of your memories will no doubt contain rides which went against all plausible outcomes.  That is part and parcel of the man.

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McCoy memories

For me his victory aboard Pridwell over Istabraq at Aintree was masterful and for once he was the villain; how dare he have the gall to conquer the revered Istabraq?  

More recently his wins on My Tent Or Yours in the Betfair Hurdle, and then in the Christmas Hurdle further underlines his skill.  

The most painful was when as a bookmaker, my father and I had collectively agreed to lay heavily Cyfor Malta in the 1998 Topham! He won so easily that I felt he almost had time to look over just out of The Elbow to laugh at our naivety and stupidity!  

He has been a punters’ talisman for around two decades. Due consideration needs to be given into how his retirement will effect the sports balance sheet, many punters just backed horses because AP was riding them.  

Remember in the lead-up to him riding his 4000th winner how much interest and betting was generated?  

The turnover on him alone in relation to other facets on betting on the sport will be huge.  

I acknowledge in relation the payout is enough, but I wonder how much racing’s betting revenue will drop without him?  

New allegiances with jockeys take time to forge but nobody has, or will, have the appeal of McCoy.  

As for the next few weeks and months the countdown to the Cheltenham Festival is at its highest intensity.

The Festival has, at times, never been AP's best friend. Perhaps it is time for the hallowed Gloucestershire turf to relent on the champ and fate to be tolerant to our hero - if not kind.  

In a blink of an eye I can lay claim to being at his first Festival and in March I'll will be at his last Festival; it's been a privilege.

My favourite AP Festival ride has to be Unsinkable Boxer and many winning punters will agree.

On Tuesday I'm very fortunate to be at the Crabbie’s Grand National weights lunch.  Who will AP ride would have been a major discussion point anyway prior to his announcement - now it will be the main talking point. Needless to say no prizes for guessing who will start favourite on Saturday April 11!

Few of us are very good at goodbyes. Instead it seems best to send him off with a hearty dose of gratitude in the knowledge we'll never see his like again.  

Thank you AP McCoy we'll be forever indebted.

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Saturday's racing:

Today is a day when I watch the racing from the comfort of home. I'm guessing the World Cup Cricket will play havoc with my sleeping patterns, added to which is that this is a perfect time to cram in Festival research. I look forward to being an armchair hindsight merchant.  

The best race of the weekend from my point of view has to be the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at Haydock at 3.25pm. It contains many hidden clues for not only Cheltenham, but perhaps more so Aintree. Make sure you record Racing Replay!

As for the selection no novelty but it has to be Ptit Zig at Ascot and Benbens at Haydock. They are only speculative interests, mind you.

Having done my conkers on Jordan Speith in the golf it was a bit frustrating that what should have been a fair payout at 33-1 on Cheltenian each-way last week only served to partly get me out of the mire.  Still in the circus that is the AT&T at Pebble Beach faith has been attached to Jimmy Walker, Chris Kirk and Fred Funk.

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Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday tips:

2.55 Haydock: Benbens at 8-1 generally available

3.50 Ascot: Ptit Zig at 9-4 with Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill

Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday pointers:

2.05 Ascot 2.05 - Racinguk.com Reynoldstown Novices' Chase:

The last ten winners have been aged either six or seven.

Eight of the last ten winners came from the first three in the betting with five of them being favourites.

Nine of the last ten winners had won over fences on their most recent run.

The 2014 winner O’Faolains Boy defeated Many Clouds then went on to win the RSA Chase.

3.15 Ascot - Les Ambassadeurs Casino Handicap Hurdle:

Six of the last eight winners have carried 10-12 or lower.

Brendan Powell has won on three of his six rides aboard Hey Big Spender.

Peter Buchanan has ridden Clondaw Knight eight times to three wins and four thirds.

Dan Skelton has had three winners from his four Ascot runners.

Venetia Williams has had four winners from her 17 Ascot runners this season.

3.50 Ascot - Betfair Ascot Chase:

The Betfair Ascot Chase was first run over 2m 5f in 2008. Since then six of the seven favourites have obliged. 

Barry Geraghty has won the Betfair Ascot Chase three times in the past five years.

Sam Twiston-Davies is unbeaten in four rides on Ptit Zig.

Since 2008 the four winners of the Betfair Ascot Chase who went on to run at the Cheltenham Festival finished no worse than second.

2008 Kauto Star was subsequently second in Gold Cup.

2009 Voy Por Ustedes was subsequently second in Ryanair Chase.

2012 Riverside Theatre won the Ryanair Chase.

2013 Cue Card won the Ryanair Chase.

2.55 Haydock - Betfred Grand National Trial

Eight of the last ten winners of the Grand National Trial finished in the first three on their previous start

Three of the last 12 winners of the Grand National Trial managed to carry 11st-12lbs to victory.

Only two of the last ten favourites have won the Grand National Trial.

Four of the last seven winners had run in the Coral Welsh National that season.

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