Biting Back: Tony McCoy eager to bow out with a bang
The horseracing Olympics, otherwise known as the Cheltenham Festival, takes place next week — but never before has the action here in Northern Ireland offered such an in-depth preview of the sport’s greatest event.
Only yesterday, star jockey Barry Geraghty was at Downpatrick, riding Jumptoconclusions to victory in the IJA Novice Handicap Hurdle.
Geraghty is set to ride some of top trainer Nicky Henderson’s leading lights at the Festival, including Ulster-bred Bobs Worth in next Friday’s Gold Cup — the pair triumphant in the blue riband in 2013 — and Sprinter Sacre in Wednesday’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.
At the Down Royal Festival in November, the feature race — the JNwine.com Champion Chase — was won by Road To Riches, now one of the Gold Cup favourites.
It will be the last Cheltenham Festival for Ulster great Tony McCoy, who retires from the saddle at the end of the season.
One of McCoy’s main Festival hopes is Jezki in the Champion Hurdle.
Jezki signalled his quality by winning the big WKD Hurdle for McCoy at the 2013 Down Royal Festival but will have to get the better of Ulster-owned legend Hurricane Fly if success in Tuesday’s feature is to be achieved.
McCoy also has a decent Gold Cup mount, Carlingford Lough, and a few wins at the Festival would be the perfect preparation for next month’s Grand National when the 40-year-old — about to be crowned champion jockey for an incredible 20th successive time — will bid to win the big race for only the second time.
Nothing like going out at the very top.