Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Tony McCoy one race away from 4,000 landmark

El Macca ridden by Tony McCoy during the RABI Gateway Project Maiden Hurdle Race at Chepstow Racecourse, Monmouthshire
El Macca ridden by Tony McCoy during the RABI Gateway Project Maiden Hurdle Race at Chepstow Racecourse, Monmouthshire

Tony McCoy needs just one more victory to hit the incredible 4,000-winner mark after steering Minella For Steak to score at Chepstow.

The 18-times champion was due to ride Mission Complete in the NFU Mutual Supports RABI Handicap Hurdle but trainer Jonjo O'Neill took that one out on account of the ground, prompting McCoy to switch to stablemate Minella For Steak.

Sent off the 3-1 favourite, McCoy duly guided home his 3,999th winner aboard the Gay Smith and John Magnier-owned gelding.

McCoy replaced 10lb-claimer James Huxham aboard Minella For Steak and he travelled well throughout the three-mile heat.

McCoy opted to kick for home early, taking it up before the second-last flight and he looked virtually assured of victory.

However, Heronshaw threw down a late challenge and he was on terms at the last, only for Minella For Steak to dig deep and push on again to win by three-quarters of a length.

McCoy said: "He's amazing this horse, because he really struggles to breathe.

"He's been running on better ground and he's won twice now on the heaviest ground possible.

"We're all supposed to be experts in this game and if anyone was riding him, or had anything to do with him, you wouldn't believe he could win on this ground.

"I'm glad that Jonjo let me ride him. I had to ring him and ask."

McCoy will head to Towcester, where he has two booked rides for O'Neill, on Thursday.

The 39-year-old gets the leg-up aboard Church Field in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle (2.10) and Mountain Tunes in the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle (3.10).

Church Field, owned by JP McManus, won four consecutive races this summer, but has been unplaced on his last two outings at Newton Abbot and Cheltenham.

Mountain Tunes, an Irish point-to-point winner in March, is also owned by McManus and will be making his British debut on his first start for O'Neill.

Asked about the chances of his mounts, the jockey said: "It would be great if one of them won. For my riding career, the sooner the better that one of them wins so I can get on with trying to have a few winners."

McCoy had earlier been out of luck as El Macca could finish only fifth in the opening RABI Gateway Project Maiden Hurdle.

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