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AP McCoy showing no signs of easing up thanks to more Aintree success

By Martin Kelly

AP McCoy was the star of the show for the second day running with victory in the feature race at Aintree as he struck on Don Cossack in the Betfred Melling Chase at Aintree.

While it was in his boss JP McManus's colours that he won the Aintree Hurdle on Down Royal Festival hero Jezki on Thursday, it was for one of that owner's big rivals in Ireland, Gigginstown, that he was triumphant.

The soon-to-retire 40-year-old stepped into the breach due to retained rider Bryan Cooper being suspended and being free himself when Uxizandre was ruled out of the race.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack was making amends for an unlucky run at Cheltenham after winning his first four starts of the campaign, including the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

McCoy chose to race Don Cossack prominently behind the pacesetting Cue Card before taking over early in the straight.

The 3-1 joint-favourite was soon away and clear and flew over the final fence to win, eased down, by 26 lengths.

Cue Card ran a creditable race to fill the runner-up spot on his first start since Boxing Day, with Johns Spirit third.

There was drama early on when Balder Succes came down at the third, giving Wayne Hutchinson a bang on his shoulder, and last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy fell at the sixth.

Like Hutchinson, his rider Josh Moore was stood down for the day.

McCoy said: "I owe JP's son Kieran a favour as we knew early in the week Uxizandre wouldn't be running and I think Kieran sorted it with Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) - even though we have a healthy competition with them in England and Ireland it's nice of them to put me up in a Grade One given I haven't got long left.

"Fair play to Gordon, he had him in great shape.

"I gave him a squeeze down the back, as it worked out he's better with the bit high in his mouth.

"Gordon told me he had a high cruising speed and not to be frightened to be positive and saying that was like a red rag to a bull," added the Ulsterman.

Elliott said: "I'm delighted, he's always been the apple of my eye and AP gave him a great ride.

"It's unfortunate Bryan Cooper got suspended at Cheltenham as he's a big part of the team, but I've got brilliant staff and owners," he added.

"I was delighted when he sent him on down the back straight as we know he stays and we didn't want a sprint.

"It's great to give AP a Grade One," said Elliott.

Bookies introduced Don Cossack into the betting at 16-1 for the 2015 Gold Cup. Vautour and Don Poli are 5-1 joint favourites.

It was also a great day for Armagh jockey Brian Hughes who triumphed on board Cyrus Darius in the E-Lites Top Novices Hurdle.

Hughes rides Ely Brown in the Grand National.

Belfast Telegraph


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