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Cheltenham Festival: AP McCoy draws crowds but is frustrated

By Steven Beacom

Tony McCoy arrived for his final Cheltenham Festival yesterday hoping to start the week with a bang, but left frustrated and without a winner on the opening day.

Dressed in a sharp blue suit he conducted various media interviews in the morning before donning his silks to chat to Clare Balding on Channel 4's live TV coverage.

Then it was down to work in front of a record first day crowd of 63,249, many of whom were there to see the iconic AP ahead of his impending retirement.

1.30pm: Riding 9/1 shot Jollyallan in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle, McCoy trailed in eighth, well behind winner Ruby Walsh on Douvan.

2.05pm: In the Racing Post Arkle Chase, McCoy on Three Kingdoms (14/1), was ninth and last of the finishers as Walsh won again on Un De Sceaux.

2.40pm: There was Ulster success in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase, but not for McCoy. whose horse Pendra (9/1) could only manage fifth after being in contention with two to jump. Winner The Druids Nephew was trained by highly rated Glenavy native Neil Mulholland.

3.20pm: In the feature race, McCoy was hopeful Jezki could retain the Stan James Champions Hurdle. The 6/1 shot, though, was no match for the fabulous Faugheen. For most of the race McCoy tracked Faugheen only to see it speed away with the winning post in sight, giving Walsh a third triumph of the day. Jezki placed fourth with Ulster -owned Hurricane Fly in third.

5.15pm: In the Chaps Restaurants Barbados Novices' Handicap Chase, McCoy didn't finish, pulling Bold Henry (12/1) up in a race won by Irish Cavalier.

AP will hope for better today.

Belfast Telegraph

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