A modest handicap run at an ordinary gallop provided Tony McCoy with his 150th winner of the season at Folkestone yesterday. There were no huge crowds to cheer him home, but on a day on which sound jumping was something of an exception, Storm Survivor was an aptly named horse on which to reach that landmark.
Despite showing little form on five previous outings, Storm Survivor was well backed and went off the 10/11 favourite. Perhaps this was due to a combination of a longer trip and the return to sound surface, or perhaps it was because earlier in the afternoon McCoy had racked up win number 149. Either way, Storm Survivor was first off the bridle and McCoy was soon hard at work to keep his mount in touch. Only in the last quarter of a mile was he able to galvanise the Jonjo O'Neill gelding into action, before they came away to win by two and a quarter lengths.
McCoy said of Storm Survivor, "He is what he is, really. Halfway down the back straight I wasn't happy where I was but, to be fair to the horse, he kept going."
28 November is the earliest McCoy has reached 150 winners for several years, but even so it is 10 days later than in season 2001/02, the year in which he achieved his best total of 289 winners. You sense listening to him that he doesn't expect to ride that many again in a season, and that any talk of riding 300 is just so much nonsense. "I'll need a lot of luck if I'm going to get 289 again and I've got to start riding a few good winners on a Saturday, but I'll keep trying. You've got to dream, but you need so much to go right. I might get there if I keep riding at the third meeting on Saturday, but we need some more good ones."
The first race on the card, an amateur ridersâ€™ handicap hurdle provided a dramatic opening to the days racing. Half the field departed at the second jump, where Jim Bestâ€™s market leader Shipboard Romance fell, bringing down both Marju King and What's For Tea. This left Near Germany, returning from an absence of 1369 days, in front, and the horse pretty much bolted away with his rider. As expected, the horse tired, although he was still in front when falling at the last. In racing, second favourite Munich had traded as low as 1/25, not surprising when he was faced with just a long absence returnee and 33/1 outsider. But anyone who did put their money down was sadly disappointed, as after hitting a second last, he was unable to close on the only other finisher, Splendid Life.
It was four years since Splendid Life had last won a race, so the combination of a tongue tie and a trip across the Channel for trainer F Lagarde on Folkestone's Pompadour Day certainly proved worthwhile.