Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Cheltenham: Tony McCoy breaks his duck on At Fishers Cross

A.P. McCoy on At Fishers Cross after winning the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
on Cheltenham Gold Cup day at Cheltenham
A.P. McCoy on At Fishers Cross after winning the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on Cheltenham Gold Cup day at Cheltenham

Tony McCoy recorded his first win at Cheltenham 2013 with a cheeky success on At Fishers Cross in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The 17-times champion jockey toyed with African Gold on the long run to the final flight and pressed on after getting a great leap out of the Rebecca Curtis-trained gelding.

The 11-8 favourite pulled clear up the hill to score by four and a half lengths from African Gold (9-2) with Inish Island (13-2) just a nose back in third.

O'Faolains Boy, stablemate of At Fishers Cross, set a steady pace after no-one wanted to go on when the tapes went up.

The field soon sorted itself out, however, with Utopie Des Borders close up and At Fishers Cross not too far behind.

There was drama at the hurdle in front of the stands at the end of the first circuit when I Shot the Sheriff fell and brought down Our Vinnie.

O'Faolains Boy still had sway after the second-last but At Fishers Cross was breathing down his neck with African Gold going well under Sam Twiston-Davies.

Once McCoy let down At Fishers Cross the race was as good as ever with the rain having come in time to help him complete a five-timer this season.

McCoy was quick to reaffirm his thoughts are with amateur rider JT McNamara, who suffered a serious neck injury in a fall on Thursday and is firmly associated with the At Fishers Cross colours of owner JP McManus.

McCoy said: "It's very hard to be happy on a day like today with what happened to John Thomas McNamara and on this day last year Campbell Gillies won this race.

"You've got to enjoy these moments.

"I'm very pleased to ride a winner for JP as he was in tears last night over what had happened to John Thomas."

McManus said: "We're all thinking of JT and what he's going through, we feel guilty being here today, we feel we should be doing something for him.

"All our prayers are with him and hopefully they will be answered. Those jockeys, they give us so much - they give us so much pleasure, as everybody does in the game.

"We should be so thankful to them all.

"To Caroline (McNamara's wife) and her family, we are thinking of you all. He will remain in our thoughts and in our prayers."

Of the winner, McManus added: "He (McCoy) rode him like the best horse in the race. I thought of him as being a Pertemps horse or something like that (earlier in his career), but he's worked his way into it and on that ground he's a pretty good horse."