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Tony McCoy clears final hurdle at Chepstow

By Robert Jones

Tony McCoy is ticking the courses off, one by one.

Yesterday the Ulster jockey made what was surely his last appearance at Chepstow as he approaches the end of his last season in racing.

There are just four more jump meetings left at the venue in the current campaign and with McCoy definitely absent on both Easter Monday and April 11, Welsh racing fans had only yesterday to catch a last glimpse of one of the greatest-ever jockeys.

And, needless to say, the Moneyglass marvel bowed out with a winning ride, romping home on Rock N Rhythm in The Truvape 'National Hunt' Maiden Hurdle Race.

Meanwhile, it's an ill-wind that doesn't blow some good, and that was the case for Fairyhouse yesterday as it emerged that McCoy won't be bringing the curtain down on his illustrious career at Punchestown.

Much to the disappointment of the Kildare track, the champion jockey has ruled out riding at the Festival in late April, meaning next Monday's Irish Grand National fixture looks like being his final competitive appearance on these shores.

The announcement is sure to bring extra punters through the turnstiles and Fairyhouse manager Peter Roe says they are already looking forward to what will be an historic day.

"We're delighted that AP McCoy is riding at Fairyhouse and we're expecting a very large crowd to come and see him signing off here in Ireland. I don't think we'll ever see another sportsman like him again," said Roe.

The 19-times champion jockey revealed that Sandown's fixture on the last day of the NH season is more than likely the destination for his final ride if he does not win the Aintree Grand National.

He also indicated that he will ride Shutthefrontdoor rather than Cause Of Causes for JP McManus at Aintree.

"I'm very likely to ride Shutthefrontdoor but I won't commit finally until close to declaration time - there is plenty of time yet for something to go wrong," said the Antrim native. "His trainer (Jonjo O'Neill) has a fantastic record with staying chasers and the horse is obviously in good form. I rode him round a circuit of Southwell last week and he jumped very well.

"If I don't win it, I'll go on until Sandown.

"It's the end of the British season and they have been good enough to name a race after me (the bet365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase).

"I did have some thoughts about Punchestown, the following week, but I definitely won't be riding there. If I did that, I might as well carry on and I won't be doing that."

Willie Mullins is finalising his Aintree plans and has raised the possibility of running two of his stable stars in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on Thursday week.

The Closutton supremo intends to enter Champion Hurdle one-two-three Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly in the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One, along with Annie Power.

Mullins intends to send a strong team to Aintree, with Champagne Fever a likely candidate for the Melling Chase.

"I will have a bigger team than normal. The mare (Babylone Des Motte) that won the bumper at Sandown will go for the mares' bumper," said the champion trainer.

"We'll enter four in the Aintree Hurdle - Faugheen, Arctic Fire, Hurricane Fly and Annie Power - and we may run two.

"Champagne Fever will go for the Melling, Boston Bob might go for that or he could for the Bowl. On His Own could go for the Bowl as well."

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