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McCoy fourth on final Festival ride

Tony McCoy could not quite win the race named in his honour on his final ride at a Cheltenham Festival but gave it a bold effort as he finished fourth on Ned Buntline.

Victory in the A.P. McCoy Grand Annual Chase went to Next Sensation, who made amends for defeat in the same race 12 months ago when he had made most of the running.

Tom Scudamore rode the eight-year-old, trained by his brother, Michael, with more restraint this time, yet still had Next Sensation (16-1) prominent throughout.

Scudamore waited until the straight to ask his mount for one big push, although it briefly looked like McCoy was bringing Ned Buntline with a winning run.

However, it flattened out and it was another horse the soon-to-retire champion could have ridden, Eastlake, who came late to snatch second spot, with Croco Bay third.

Given a reception fit for a winner as he returned, McCoy said: "It's amazing, but I feel a bit guilty as Next Sensation won the race.

"It's a very emotional thing. It's very special, and something I really appreciate. This is something I'm really going to miss."

The winning trainer, celebrating his first Festival winner, said: "It's an amazing feeling, especially after last year.

"We thought we'd missed our chance last year and then I woke up this morning and found it pouring with rain, but credit to the horse."

The winning rider said: "We lost grandad (Grand National-winning rider Michael Scudamore senior) and grandma in a short space of each other in the summer.

"Grandad was an integral part of our lives. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be here, whether it be me riding or Michael training."

A reflective McCoy received a presentation in the winner's enclosure, and said: "It's disappointing that I won't ever be riding at the Festival again. That's something I never wanted to think would happen. It was not something I was ever going to look forward to, that's for sure.

"It's going to be very different when I come back here next year.

"He made a couple of mistakes and the ground was always going to be a little bit of a worry in terms of stamina and he's never been a brilliant finisher."

McCoy went on: "I'm a realist. I've been lucky to have ridden here for 20 years.

"You can't keep going forever, as much as you'd like to.

"I like the sport, I love racing. Sure I'm going to miss riding winners, but I love racing and not riding won't stop me coming back to the Festival.

"There'll be some sadness when I do come back not as a jockey, but I love a sport that's been very good to me and I'll be very glad to come back.

"Cheltenham is an amazing place with amazing people."

McCoy nominated his Gold Cup win on Synchronised as his greatest Festival success, but added: "I've never looked back, as I've always looked forward.

"I suppose I better start looking back as I've nothing to look forward to."


From Belfast Telegraph