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Tony McCoy in Kauto shocker after Festival honour

By Frank Brownlow

Tony McCoy - who yesterday had a race named in his honour in what will be his last Cheltenham Festival - revealed last night that he did not consider the great Kauto Star to be in the top 10 horses he has ridden.

McCoy said it is a "privilege" that next Friday's final race of the meeting will this year be run as the AP McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase for the Johnny Henderson Challenge Cup.

The Ulsterman, who will retire at the end of the season next month when he is crowned champion jockey for the 20th successive time, rode Kauto Star once, finishing third in the 2011 King George at Kempton, a race won by Long Run.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls' stable star was usually ridden by McCoy's great friend and rival Ruby Walsh, with the likes of the Moneyglass man and Sam Thomas stepping in only when Walsh was unavailable.

Kauto Star was one of jump racing's greats, winning five King Georges and two Gold Cups.

He also delighted the Ulster racing public with two wins in the Down Royal Festival feature, the Champion Chase, triumphing in 2008 and 2010.

"Kauto Star was a fantastic horse," said McCoy, who next week will ride in his last Cheltenham Festival, the action getting under way on Tuesday.

"The only reason I don't feel I can put him in my top 10 is because I didn't see the best of him," said the 40-year-old, who rides Jezki in the Champion Hurdle and Carlingford Lough in the Gold Cup.

McCoy's top rides in a glittering career have included Mr Mulligan (1997 Gold Cup winner), Synchronised (2012 Gold Cup), Brave Inca (2006 Champion Hurdle), Make A Stand (1997 Champion Hurdle), Edredon Bleu (2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase), Blowing Wind (1998 County Hurdle), Wichita Lineman (2009 William Hill Trophy), Liberman (2003 Champion Bumper), Well Chief (2004 Arkle Trophy) and Albertas Run (2011 Ryanair Chase).

He also has a soft spot for Don't Push It on which he won his first - and so far only - Grand National in 2010.

McCoy is on Shutthefrontdoor in what will be his last ride - and possibly his last ever race - in the Aintree spectacular on April 11.

McCoy believes it is a "privilege" to have a race named in his honour at what will be his last Cheltenham Festival before retirement.

The racecourse management decided to mark the departure of the 19-times champion jockey with a contest bearing his name.

The new title for 2015 has been made in agreement with the Henderson family and is for one year.

McCoy said: "I am honoured that Cheltenham has decided to have the last race of the Festival in my name.

"It is a privilege and I would also like to thank the Henderson family for sharing the title for this year. I am much looking forward to next week."

The race will provide McCoy with one final chance of Festival success in a contest he has won three times before on Alderwood (2013), Edredon Bleu (1998) and Kibreet (1996), who was his first winner at the meeting.

Cheltenham chairman Robert Waley-Cohen said: "I am delighted that we have been able to rename this year's Grand Annual Handicap Chase after the champion jockey, especially as it will be his last race at the Festival.

"What he has achieved is phenomenal and to round off the Festival in his name seemed like a fitting tribute."

Belfast Telegraph


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