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Tony McCoy to give the bookies final dig with Mr Mole at Sandown

By Frank Brownlow

Tony McCoy can end his brilliant career in familiar fashion at Sandown tomorrow - by caning the bookies.

The Ulster legend rides Mr Mole in the race named in his honour - the AP McCoy Celebration Chase - and punters snapped up the 9-2 that was available, the price then trimmed to 7-2.

McCoy's last ever ride will be in the concluding race at the 20,000 sell-out fixture, the 40-year-old on board the aptly named Box Office.

But Mr Mole - the horse on which he racked up his 200th winner of the season at Newbury in February before immediately announcing his end-of-season retirement - can bring him a final Grade One success.

But Mr Mole - trained by Paul Nicholls - must overcome a quality field that includes Sprinter Sacre and Special Tiara.

"There is nothing I would like more than to provide AP McCoy with a winner on his final day in the saddle," said the champion trainer.

Nicholls continued: "He has already won on Mr Mole several times and I've kept the horse fresh since Cheltenham."

He added: "I am delighted he is getting out in one piece.

I am sure he is doing the right thing by stopping now, even though he sounds far from convinced about his decision to retire," he said.

"You sense that he doesn't really want to end his career yet so Saturday will be a tough day for him. So will next week when the new season springs into life.

"At first he will not find life easy out of the saddle. But it must surely help that he bows out having fulfilled everything that a jockey dreams of achieving at the outset.

"He is a genuinely good guy who always has a friendly word for the lads and lasses who look after the horses he rides.

"Obviously it helps that AP possesses a rare toughness of spirit that has seen him bounce back quicker than seemed possible from a series of bad injuries."

McCoy will be crowned champion jockey for an incredible 20th successive time tomorrow, with Arsenal legend Ian Wright making a special presentation to the Gunners fan.

McCoy is currently on 231 winners for the season - he holds the record of 289 - while he also boasts a record tally of 4,348 career successes, which include victories in all the big races.

"I've always dreaded retirement," McCoy admitted.

"I'm going to take a good long holiday and think about what I want to do. I'm keeping my options open."

McCoy has had more than his fair share of injuries over the years, and the dangers of this most unforgiving sport were brought into sharp focus when Davy Condon announced his retirement.

Condon has been forced to quit after the spinal injury he suffered in a fall from Portrait King in the Grand National at Aintree earlier this month.

Condon was told by consultant neurologist Dr Brian Murray that he should never ride again as the risk of permanent paralysis is too high.

Condon said: "I was half expecting it. I was hoping that I might still be able to ride out, but he told me I can't even exercise horses, it's too dangerous."

This latest injury is on top of a spinal concussion and broken vertebrae Condon sustained in a fall at Cork last August.

The 30-year-old, whose biggest successes include Cheltenham Festival victories on Ebaziyan and Ulster-owned Flaxen Flare, will now meet with a neurosurgeon to discuss an operation to repair the lesion on a disc between vertebrae in his neck.

Wins for McCoy at Sandown tomorrow would be a nice bonus, but the biggest prize of all is to retire in one piece.

Belfast Telegraph


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