Aintree joy for Tony McCoy as Don Cossack wins Betfred Melling Chase
Tony McCoy steered Don Cossack to his fifth victory of a memorable campaign in the Betfred Melling Chase at Aintree.
The Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old enjoyed a magnificent start to the season, winning each of his first four starts including the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, before finishing third when favourite for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
With McCoy replacing the suspended Bryan Cooper in the saddle, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding tracked the pacesetting Cue Card for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey before taking over early in the straight.
The 3-1 joint-favourite was soon away and clear and flew over the final fence to win eased down by a yawning 26 lengths.
Cue Card ran a creditable race to fill the runner-up spot on his first start since Boxing Day, with Johns Spirit third.
The other joint-favourite, Champagne Fever, was disappointing, with a bad mistake in the straight confirming his fate.
Last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy fell with over a circuit left to run.
McCoy said: "I got a good ride off him.
"I owe JP's (McManus) son Kieran a favour as we knew early in the week Uxizandre wouldn't be running and I think Kieran sorted it with Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) - even though we have a healthy competition with them in England and Ireland it's nice of them to put me up in a Grade One given I haven't got long left.
"I think I've won five Ryanairs so I've won loads of money off him!"
He added: "Fair play to Gordon, he had him in great shape.
"I gave him a squeeze down the back, as it worked out he's better with the bit high in his mouth.
"Gordon told me he had a high cruising speed and not to be frightened to be positive and saying that was like a red rag to a bull."