Belfast Telegraph

Many Clouds sealed the Grand National win and AP McCoy is out of Luck

By Billy Weir

The portents weren't good as Grand National day started on Channel Four with Jimmy Nesbitt telling us all a nice wee story.

Surely he hadn't been shipped in to replace Clare Balding as she hauled anchor to the Boat Race, but no, the man for the People's Race was a familiar, if smug, face to racing fans, that of Nick Luck, presenter of The Morning Line.

So, why the long face then? In fairness it wasn't his, he was joined by last year's winner Pineau de Re, a great story but, "there would be no story greater than AP McCoy - can he provide a fairytale finish to what's been a quite perfect career?" mused Nick. No such luck.

Highlight of the build-up was to hear the great Sir Peter O'Sullevan, forever the voice of racing, giving his views on the soon to be retired AP. Still no word whether Tony is quitting too…

Now 97-years-old and his voice audibly weakening, there was a lump in my throat and a tear welling in my eye as the grand old man of racing paid tribute to the greatest man ever to chuck his leg over an equine.

There was a certain mischief making from Luck as we focused in on jockey Nina Carberry as he mused if she could be the first woman to win the big race and can you imagine how smug Channel Four would have been had that happened with Clare down in London? She'd have been racing up the Mersey in a speedboat to get there.

Her absence created an opening and it was filled by former jockey Emma Spencer, who appeared in an off the shoulder top that made her look like a barmaid from 1839, and Gok Wan, whose only possible reason for being there was that he had the same number of letters and syllables as Red Rum.

That's unfair, he was there to tell us about fashion and was allowed to rummage through Chanelle McCoy's dressing room, the size of many stables, while AP's clothes were all stored in one shoe box.

And talking of shoes, Frankie Dettori stole the show with a dazzling pair of shocking blue slip-ons that a showy Smurf would shun, but why he was there was a bit of a mystery, one of flat racing's greats at the greatest steeplechase on earth - it's like having Bobby George commentating on the javelin final at the Olympics.

And there was to be a fairytale finish, but not the one everyone wanted, as Leighton Aspell won for the second year in a row, this time on Many Clouds.

The son of Leighton Rees and Michael Aspel (I made that up) retired a few years ago and then came back to win on Pineau de Re last year and with that in mind I've already stuck a few quid on McCoy coming back to win next year. Clare may come back for that one.

Belfast Telegraph


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