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Is Tony McCoy set to end on a high?

By Frank Brownlow

Tony McCoy has dropped the strongest hint yet that he is contemplating retirement at the end of the season.

McCoy - who won on Delores Delightful at Wincanton yesterday - has indicated that, despite being fit to ride, he may take a few days off next week, a move that in the past would have been completely unheard of for the ultra-focused champion jockey.

The Ulster great, whose bid for a record-breaking 300 winners this season was halted by injury - he holds the current mark of 289 - is closing in on an unprecedented 20th successive champion jockey title and, when that milestone is reached in April, McCoy may hang up his saddle.

McCoy, who turns 41 in May and has ridden 193 winners this season, said: "I've no numerical target now (that 300 is unachievable) and I might even take a few days away next week, which tells you something."

He continued: "The good races are more important for the rest of the season.

"The last few Saturdays, I've had very little and there was nothing for me to ride on Trials day at Cheltenham once we'd decided not to run Holywell.

"More Of That will be back in a couple of weeks and he's the great hope for the spring," he added.

McCoy has re-written the record books with over 4,300 winners in a glittering career but the 5,000 landmark would require three more seasons in this toughest of sports which would take the Moneyglass man virtually to his 44th birthday.

McCoy would dearly love to put the icing on the cake with a second Grand National triumph at Aintree on April 11.

His only victory in the big race came on Don't Push It in 2010, a success that subsequently led to McCoy becoming the only jockey ever crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

McCoy is booked for five rides at Chepstow today before heading to Sandown tomorrow.

He is in line for the spare ride on Coneygree in next weekend's Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury as regular partner Nico de Boinville is suspended.

The impressive Feltham Novices Chase winner was due to take on his elders at Cheltenham last weekend in the race won by Many Clouds, but that was scuppered by a late minor setback.

Well fancied for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, an ambitious tilt at the Gold Cup would be considered were he to win well at the Berkshire track.

"He just had a slight tweak which meant we couldn't run last week, so we'll go to Newbury instead," said trainer Mark Bradstock's wife, Sara.

"The only disappointing thing about it all is that Nico can't ride as he's suspended.

"However, we've been on to (agent) Dave Roberts and he thinks we can have AP (McCoy) - so he's not a bad substitute!" she smiled.

"We'll go for the Denman because I think he needs a shot at these older horses before we decide which way we head at the Festival.

"If we win we'd feel stupid not being in it (the Gold Cup)."

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