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Cheltenham: Chanelle plants a winning kiss on AP McCoy

While mum Claire cherishes the victory she'd longed for at racing legend's final Cheltenham

By Nevin Farrell

She famously rarely watches a whole race her hero jockey son rides in, but a landmark Tony McCoy win at his last Cheltenham coaxed his mum Claire out from behind the sofa.

Mrs McCoy has always been nervous watching her superstar sporting son when he is pounding along race courses in case he picks up another injury, but she watched on TV at her Moneyglass home yesterday to cheer Tony over the line, making her dream of a last festival win come true and setting her up for a great Mother's Day.

As the rest of her family was over in Cheltenham joining in the outpouring of emotion at Tony's first win after more than a dozen outings at this year's festival, his mum was at home alone.

That normally would have meant she would have been flitting in and out of her living room, where the walls are festooned with tributes to the hero jockey, during Tony's races.

Yesterday a family friend, who is a big horse-racing fan, suddenly arrived at the McCoy home just two miles from Toomebridge and, not wishing to be rude to the visitor, Claire broke with her tradition and watched on as Tony triumphed and got the one more Cheltenham win she was cherishing. Earlier in the week the proud mum said she would love if it Tony could deliver one last Cheltenham victory for her... and he didn't disappoint.

Claire told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday: "I am delighted he won but it was very hard for me to watch. I was in the house on my own, the rest of them are all away to Cheltenham. When I watch on my own I can go from room to room but today a friend who is a big racing fan came in so I had no other option but to watch it.

"He got some reception. I'm delighted he got the winner as I had wanted him to get at least one more winner at Cheltenham. It was quite emotional today seeing there was a big poster up at Cheltenham saying 'We'll miss you AP'."

Claire said she has yet to decide if she will watch the Gold Cup today where her son is set to ride Carlingford Lough. Then she has to weigh up if she can take in all of a special race which has been named in his honour to mark his Cheltenham departure today - The AP McCoy Grand Annual Chase.

Over in Cheltenham there was a kiss for her hero husband from Tony's wife Chanelle and also tears as the emotion surrounding a race win at this Cheltenham made it apparent the success was more special than many of his 4,000-plus victories.

AP said he'll miss big occasions like Cheltenham but before he leaves for the last time as the most successful jump jockey of all time, a few more special memories are just waiting to be made.

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