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Nicky’s landmark is closer thanks to Tony McCoy

Tony McCoy

Nicky Henderson moved to within two of his 2,000th career winner when claiming a double yesterday in the Market Rasen sunshine, Tony McCoy riding both horses to victory.

The Seven Barrows handler is now perched on the 1,998-winner mark after Higgy's Ragazzo and Quantitativeeasing obliged at the picturesque Lincolnshire circuit.

And on an afternoon in which Henderson surpassed 100 victories for the season, it will surely be a matter of days, rather than weeks, before that landmark success is achieved.

Higgy's Ragazzo brought up the ton in the opening Caffrey's Irish Ale Juvenile Hurdle.

Formerly with Richard Hannon on the Flat, the four-year-old gelding showed honourable professionalism on his jumps debut to serve notice of his potential for the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival.

There was drama at the first flight, though, when Sir Pitt swerved left and unseated Daryl Jacob, who in turn brought down the Phil Kinsella-ridden Brink.

Jacob was consequently stood down for the rest of the day, but Kinsella was taken to Lincoln County Hospital after suffering facial injuries.

McCoy would have preferred not to have been in front so early aboard Higgy's Ragazzo, but his partner responded positively to Kayaan's challenge to score by two and three-quarter lengths.

Tom Symonds, assistant trainer to Henderson, said of the 8-15 favourite: “He did it well, such was the way the race panned out, and will come on an awful lot for that.

“He could be a Fred Winter horse, but time is running out.”

Quantitativeeasing (2-11 favourite) later continued his progress over fences in the Molson Coors One Stop Shop Novices' Chase.

The JP McManus-owned chestnut was not spectacular in this three-runner affair, but may well have bumped into a willing foe in Fin Vin De Leu.

That rival briefly led after the second-last, but McCoy always had matters in hand and stretched clear by a length and a quarter.

Symonds added: “He's now eligible for handicaps so we can make plans for Cheltenham, if that's what Nicky chooses to do.”

McCoy was a shade less enthusiastic about Quantitativeeasing's Festival claims, adding: “I don't know whether he's a Cheltenham horse.”

Henderson and McCoy were foiled 30 minutes earlier when 5-2 favourite Thanks For Coming was put to the sword by Risaala in the EBF Novices' Hurdle.

McCoy threw everything at Thanks For Coming, but was convincingly outpointed by a length and a half.

Meanwhile, Johnny Murtagh — who left his role as number one jockey to Aidan O'Brien and Coolmore in November — is set to make his Meydan debut tomorrow.

He rides Iver Bridge Lad for John Ryan and the Michael Dods-trained pair Sweet Lightning and Rain Delayed.

Belfast Telegraph