He had a strange day at Chepstow this afternoon. He was initially booked for two rides, but when Jonjo O’Neill pulled Mission Complete out of the NFU Mutual Supports RABI Handicap Hurdle because the ground was so heavy, it left McCoy unable to reach his target today.
But O’Neill had another runner in the race, and a phone call from jockey to trainer saw 10 pound claimer James Huxham sit the race out and McCoy take his place on Minella For Steak. This was a horse in form; he had finished second at Huntingdon three weeks ago, and then won at Ffos Las last week. The jockey switch probably had quite a bit to do with Minella For Steak going off the 3/1 favourite, and McCoy had him moving well throughout the race, taking up the running after three out, and then holding off a late challenge from Heronshaw. I hope McCoy gave the lad his fee.
By now, the quest was sure to run into another day, as McCoy’s earlier ride on El Macca could do no better than fifth place.
In some way, I don’t think McCoy will be too disappointed, as his two rides at Towcester tomorrow are both on horses owned by JP McManus, who has been a long term friend of McCoy. He’ll be especially delighted if he brings up 4,000 on a McManus/O’Neill horse.
His first opportunity comes in the 2.10 race, where he rides Church Field. This horse was in excellent form over the summer, winning four in a row on the good ground. McCoy rode him in two of those races. He’s climbed the weights as a result, from a BHA mark of 85 to 122. A couple of recent defeats have seen his rating take a dip, and he runs off 118 tomorrow, still five pounds higher than in his last successful race.
If that proves too hard a task, there’s a second opportunity an hour later in the 3.10 on Mountain Tunes. This novice hurdler is a likely favourite, but he’s also a bit of an unknown quantity, unraced in Britain, having recently gone to O’Neill after an Irish point to point win earlier in the year.
Will he do it tomorrow? I hope so, as I’ll be at Towcester to cheer him on. Clerk of the course Robert Bellamy sounded hopeful, and has one or two things lined up should McCoy ride a winner. He said, “Everyone was delighted to see him have that winner at Chepstow today and hopefully, we’ll have a nice crowd here. It would be fantastic for Towcester if he could get the 4,00th winner here. It would be a great feather in our cap and would give us great publicity as well, of course.
Hopefully there are no issues with the weather (though there has been plenty of rain in the area today), we’ll have a good day and if he could do it, we’d all be delighted. If he does so it, obviously there will be one or two things going on. Until then, we’ll just treat it like a normal raceday.”