It was a fruitless mission to Exeter on Tuesday for Tony McCoy in his bid to reach 4000 winners in the saddle. A trio of rides, including 2/1 favourite Flemenson, was unable to add to McCoy's score, currently 3998.
Flemenson had taken it up two out, albeit narrowly, in the two and three quarter mile novices' hurdle, but he was ground down by Hadden Frost, aboard Rydon Pines, a 7/1 chance. That was mildly ironic, given Rydon Pines' trainer, David Pipe, had earlier tweeted, "Hadden Frost tells me that he could make it to the landmark 121 winners today @ExeterRaces - he is expecting a big crowd to be there!!!!"
If that was frustrating for McCoy, there was little else to cheer for the dominant jockey of his generation, as 16/1 shot, Keen Eye, passed the post in seventh; and then the fancied Well Hello There could do no better than fifth of eight in the handicap chase.
Doubtless though it is that the perennial champion jockey will want to close out the milestone as soon as possible, it looks unlikely that it will happen tomorrow, despite the second of his two booked rides being the aptly named Mission Complete. Before hopping on that 12/1 chance, he rides the unraced El Macca for Rebecca Curtis in the opening maiden hurdle, forecast to be 4/1 or so.
The combined odds of AP's two rides on Wednesday, then, are 64/1 so it looks highly likely that the quest will continue at least as far as Thursday, where the champ is expected to be riding at Towcester. Should he still be shy of the milestone mark, Fontwell's loss could well be Southwell's gain.
The Sussex track has been forced to abandon its Friday card, due to waterlogging, and an extra meeting has been carded for the Nottinghamshire track in its stead. Southwell was the scene of one of McCoy's - and indeed the sport's - more remarkable winning performances, when he remounted Family Business to win a novice chase in 2002.
Although an 8/11 shot in the ring, Family Business went on to be the first ever 'in running' 999/1 winner on the newly founded Betfair exchange. Layers who failed to wise up to the never-say-die attitude of McCoy have been 'gubbed' twice further at the maximum since.
It looks likely that either Towcester or Southwell will be the scene of the phenomenal 4000 milestone being reached, and it is to some degree emblematic of the winter sport that it should happen at one of the more provincial circuits.
You can follow all the buzz and the bluster on twitter by searching for the hashtag #AP4000. Or by clicking that link.