AP McCoy bows out with no wins but loads of respect

AP McCoy with his 20th, and final, Champion Jockey Trophy at Sandown

AP McCoy with his 20th, and final, Champion Jockey Trophy at Sandown

The greatest jump jockey of all time, AP McCoy retired from the sport today with two third place finishes in Sandown.

Tony McCoy finished third aboard Box Office on the final ride of his career in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. Despite the best efforts of the jockey the win was never really on the cards for the heavily backed favourite.

The crowds cheered McCoy from the moment he entered the paddock to mount the 5-2 favourite, applauding him the past the stands on the way to the start of the two-and-a-half-mile heat.

Another shout of approval heralded the start, with McCoy settling Box Office towards the rear in the early stages before he started to manoeuvre across the track as the race began in earnest.

However, despite travelling well three flights from home, the Jonjo O'Neill-trained runner found little under pressure and had to settle for a place behind Brother Tedd (9-1).

A tearful McCoy said: "It's amazing. I've been so lucky all my life. I'll never forget this day."

"It's been a very emotional day and thanks to everyone for coming," he said.

"It's fantastic, it's very special.

"I would like to thank all the racing public for coming here.

"It's a day I'll never forget."

Jonjo O'Neill joked: "The way he rode that, he'll never ride for me again!

"He's the greatest man in the game. He's good to work with, a true professional .

"What I can say does not justify how great he is.

"We will not see the like of him again."

Earlier in the day, McCoy had to settle for third aboard Mr Mole in the bet365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase, the penultimate ride of his illustrious career.

McCoy raced prominently on the Paul Nicholls-trained runner but the writing was on the wall as he began to push along at the third-last fence as eventual winner Special Tiara kicked for home.

While Mr Mole kept on at the one pace, McCoy could not reel back the 3-1 favourite, who ran out a six-length winner.

Former champion two-mile chaser Sprinter Sacre returned to something like his old self in second, with McCoy edged out for third place.

McCoy was given a thunderous reception upon his return from the track with Mr Mole and said: "This is all way beyond my expectations.

"I've had a great way of life for the last 25 years, and working with great people has made it that much more enjoyable."

Davy Condon forced to retire due to spinal injury aged 30

Davy Condon celebrates winning the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2013

Davy Condon celebrates winning the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2013

Davy Condon has been forced to retire from the saddle due to a spinal injury.

Condon was riding Portrait King in the Grand National at Aintree when he fell at the third-last, leaving him with a spinal concussion.

It was the second time within a year that he suffered a similar injury.

Condon had resigned himself to the fact he would be out of action for a lengthy period of time but after seeing a specialist on Wednesday he has been advised to call time on his career.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer of the Irish Turf Club issued a statement on behalf of Condon which read: "Davy Condon suffered a spinal injury in a fall during the Grand National at Aintree.

"This was on the background of a previous spinal concussion from which he had recovered fully and had been passed fit to ride by our consultant neurologist.

"Davy was reviewed yesterday by Dr Brian Murray, Consultant Neurologist, on behalf of the Turf Club.

"Dr Murray has recommended that Davy retire from horse riding, be it professional or recreational, due to the risk of further spinal injury.

"Davy has been referred by Dr Murray for a neurosurgical opinion as he has an ongoing disc lesion in his neck.

"Davy has fully accepted the medical advice and will be liaising with the Irish Jockeys' Trust with a view to future career options."

Condon's best days in the saddle in recent years came when riding for Gordon Elliott and the trainer was quick to take to Twitter to pay tribute to him.

"Very sad to say that Davy Condon has been forced to retire from racing due to injury," said Elliott.

"Davy has been an integral part of the team and has ridden some of the biggest winners I have had in my short career.

"Davy will not only be missed by myself, he is a very popular person in the industry and here at Cullentra.

"We all wish him the very best of luck with whatever he chooses to do next with his career and if we can help in any way, we will not hesitate to do so.

"Thanks for everything Davy, we've had some great memories together."

Condon's last major win came at Ascot in The Ladbroke on the Elliott-trained Bayan, which was only his third ride back since the first bad back injury he suffered in August.

His last Grade One success came on Pat Fahy's Morning Assembly at the 2013 Punchestown Festival and he also won a Powers Gold Cup on Realt Mor for Elliott earlier that season.

The early days of his career were spent with Willie Mullins and he first came to prominence to British race fans when winning the 2007 Supreme Novices' Hurdle on Ebaziyan.

Condon then enjoyed success with Noel Meade and filled in very ably when Paul Carberry was injured on the likes of Go Native, winning the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdles in 2009.

Other top-class horses he partnered to victory include Monet's Garden, Pandorama and Mount Benbulben.

AP McCoy admits he is ‘dreading’ his final career ride on Saturday

AP McCoy chatting to Clare balding about the end of his illustrious career

AP McCoy chatting to Clare balding about the end of his illustrious career

The greatest jump jockey of all time will have his final ride as a professional on Saturday and he has spoken about just how much he is ‘dreading’ the thought of it.

McCoy will appear on the Clare Balding Show on BT Sport 2 tonight at 9.30 and he speaks about a wide range of topics, including his upcoming final ride, aboard a horse called Box Office at Sandown on Saturday.

When asked by Balding about the prospect of his final race, McCoy said: "I’m dreading it, yes.  I would like to, the thing that I’d love to do is to be able to do it all again, so it is. I’ve often said, I said it recently, that I’d love to change my name and go back riding and be in the next season again and carry on as normal but I think the position that I was lucky enough to be in, I think the most difficult thing is to walk away when you are still performing.  

"It is very difficult for a sports person to walk away when you are still performing before the dip comes or people think he’s maybe not as good as he was or someone else might have had a chance of being champion jockey, I never wanted that to happen. I wanted to be brave enough and have enough bottle to walk away when I was still champion jockey."

On Saturday McCoy will pick up his 20th successive champion jockey crown, a feat surely never to be surpassed in the sport, but the realisation that he won't be doing it all again really hit home last week, after his last spin at Cheltenham.

"The reality of it only really only hit home I think after the Grand National because after I announced my retirement in February I kind of thought, well I’m still riding the next day.  

"I was lucky enough to go to Ireland for the Irish Hennessy and I never thought I would retire but it really hit home after Aintree and more so at the end, probably after I left Cheltenham last Thursday for the last time and I was on my home driving home, and most of my colleagues will tell you I don’t drive very far but I actually did manage to drive myself to Cheltenham that day and drove myself home and I did have a moment or two on the way home."

Robbie McNamara – ‘I’m great but I can’t feel my legs yet’

Robbie McNamara after a win at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival

Robbie McNamara after a win at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival

Robbie McNamara is feeling “great and optimistic” as he continues to recover from serious injuries suffered in a fall at Wexford earlier this month.

The jockey was due to partner last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere in the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree, but suffered multiple injuries when coming to grief in a fall from Bursledon in a handicap hurdle the previous day.

McNamara remains in the Mater Hospital in Dublin and despite still having no feeling in his legs, he was able to leave his bed for the first time to enjoy the sunshine on Tuesday.

Delighted to get out of the bed for the first time today. What a beautiful day for it to land on #littlevictories pic.twitter.com/nZAB3LCiN6

— Robbie McNamara (@RobbiepMcN) April 21, 2015

Speaking in the Final Furlong Podcast, McNamara said: "I'm feeling great and I'm still optimistic. I've no feeling in my legs at the minute, but it's early days.

"My back is badly battered and bruised and there's a lot of swelling. I'd be hoping when all that swelling and bruising goes down, some of the nerve damage might repair and some feeling might come back.

"I'm very active every day. I'm doing physio already and working on balance and reflexes.

"I can't do a whole pile as I broke eight ribs and cracked six vertebrae as well, so I can't do anything very strenuous.

"There's plenty to keep you occupied, I'm enjoying my days and I'm in great spirits. I've no negative thoughts whatsoever.

"It was my first time out of the bed (on Tuesday). It was a surprise I was allowed to go outside, it went grand and it was a beautiful day for it.

"My mother and father were there and it put a smile on their faces, which is lovely to see as it hasn't been easy for them either."

PA

No fairytale for McCoy as Many Clouds wins the Aintree Grand National

GN 2015.jpg

GN 2015.jpg

For a while it looked like AP McCoy was going to have the fairytale finish aboard Shutthefrontdoor but in the end it was the stronger Many Clouds that did the business.

Many Clouds, trained by Oliver Sherwood and ridden by Leighton Aspell, won the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree.

Aspell, who rode Pineau De Re to victory last year, repeated the trick aboard the horse that was sent off as a 25/1 shot.

Aspell was never too far off the pace and Many Clouds, winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury earlier in the season and sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, jumped with aplomb throughout.

For a long way it appeared Shutthefrontdoor could provide Tony McCoy with a fairytale second National triumph before his retirement, but he eventually weakened into fifth place.

Many Clouds tired from the elbow, but had enough in the tank to hold off Saint Are, with Monbeg Dude third and Alvarado fourth.

Aspell said: "It was wonderful and we will certainly celebrate tonight. I asked some big questions, but he dug deep.

"We really refreshed and recharged his battery, and I tried to conserve energy. He is all heart – all season he has had hard races.

"Win lose or draw, that's the best ride I have had in the National. I just hoped his battery life lasted out and it did."

Channel 4 are also reporting that all 39 horses have returned to the stables safe and sound. 

PA

 

 

Bookies face a monster pay out if AP McCoy wins the Grand National

AP McCoy rides in his final Aintree Festival

AP McCoy rides in his final Aintree Festival

The biggest race of the year could also result in the biggest payout of the year if the fan favourite takes the win.

After 20 years, and one Grand National success, AP McCoy will saddle up for one last tilt at the biggest race in the world today.

The champion jockey will take his chance aboard the JP McManus owned Shutthefrontdoor, a horse who won the Irish National in 2014.

The combination of the quality of the horse and the sentiment for McCoy has seen a huge gamble go down on the horse. Currently sitting at the top of the market at 8/1, if the eight-year-old does finish the four-and-a-half-mile marathon first, the bookies will be hit hard.

In Ireland spokespeople for the industry reckon an AP win would cost them between €12 and €20million, while in the UK the figure could touch €70m.

So while the vast majority of race fans, whether they have backed him or not, will be cheering on the Antrim hero today, the bookies will definitely be hoping that the fairytale ending doesn't come to pass.