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AP McCoy at his Sunday best after Fairyhouse triumphs

By Samuel Hamilton

He was the man they were all at Fairyhouse to pay farewell to - and Tony McCoy gave fans something to celebrate with a double win.

The champion jockey from Moneyglass was the only talking point yesterday as he started his final campaign on Irish soil before his retirement in a few weeks' time.

McCoy (40), proved exactly why he is considered the world's greatest ever jump jockey as he hurtled to victory in the day's biggest affair, the Ryanair Gold Cup on Gilgamboa.

He also also landed a winner on Sir Scorpion in the Gleesons Butchers Handicap Hurdle as McCoy mania took over the Easter Festival.

But during a day that saw McCoy thrust babies to kiss and nabbed for more selfies than a reality TV star, he said people now have to accept his "end is near".

"I'll be tempted every day I see horses I could ride - but the end is near. I would have liked to have ridden in Punchestown but I'll be champion jockey in England and this should be my 20th year," he said.

"And if you ride at Punchestown, there's a temptation to go on and ride in Galway and never give up. But I'm going to miss out on a lot."

Bookies said he saved them thousands for once in the Gold Cup - having not gone into the race as favourite.

Boylesport's Leon Blanche said: "He wasn't one of the favourites. He started at 7-1, so for once AP McCoy has saved the bookmakers a few bob by beating out Ruby Walsh, who was the favourite."

Today McCoy will be hoping for yet another magical moment as he enters today's Irish Grand National as the favourite on Cantlow.

Crowds were up at the sun-baked course, with 7,456 packing in - and expects even more tomorrow.

"With AP back here again, it will be an absolute cracker," said general manager Peter Koe.

McCoy's fairytale at Fairyhouse, see Page 56

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