Five-star McCoy sweeps to latest century in style
The phenomenal AP McCoy continued his relentless drive towards the 4,000 winner mark by completing a century for the 19th consecutive year en route to a spectacular 123/1 five-timer at Carlisle.
When the Antrim legend picked Uxizandre off the floor two out before galvanising him to victory at Plumpton on Monday, At The Races commentator Simon Holt remarked that it was just "another everyday miracle" on his part. In essence, that interminable drive to elevate a mundane card at some obscure outpost into something less ordinary is McCoy's genius.
Yesterday, his brilliance was to the fore in all its glory at the remote Cumbrian hunting ground, with Jonjo O'Neill's sloppy jumper Milan Bound (6/4) requiring all his determined guile to prevail by half a length in the novice hurdle.
Milan Bound was debuting for O'Neill having won a Fairyhouse bumper for TJ Nagle in February, and Pendra and Upswing then overcame similar lay-offs to make it three from three on the day.
Second in the Tolworth Hurdle in January, Charlie Longsdon's Pendra capitalised on the exit of Jet Master two-out to readily justify odds-on favouritism in the novices' chase.
Upswing, a 7/4 favourite, was equally facile in taking McCoy onto the 102 mark for the season in the two-mile handicap hurdle, setting up a treble for O'Neill, completed in decisive fashion by Finding Your Feet (6/4 favourite) in the half-mile longer equivalent.
Each of McCoy's first four winners carried his boss JP McManus' colours, and the punters' pal completed his quintet aboard Nicky Richards' Tutchec (3/1 co-fav) in the handicap chase.
Unsurprisingly, Dubai Sonnet was backed into 5/2 to make it six from eight in the bumper, though he never figured as the somewhat appropriately named Five In A Row flew home.
With just 16 winners now required to reach an unprecedented 4,000, the on-fire Moneyglass-born rider is set to complete the fastest 1,000 of his or any other jockey's career.
Given that he missed the opening weeks of the season due to injury, the 39-year-old's imminent feat – on the obvious proviso that he avoids further injury – is truly extraordinary.
As the jumps season continues to gain momentum, Willie Mullins has sounded a warning to the various two-mile hurdling pretenders by suggesting that his dual champion Hurricane Fly might be "at least as good as he ever was" this term. The nine-year-old will bid to claim sole ownership of the record number of career Grade One wins when he vies for No 17 on his seasonal reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday fortnight.
"Hurricane Fly has come back in from grass, I think, much stronger than he ever has before which might mean it could take him longer to get fully fit," the champion trainer mused.
"But I'm hoping that when he is fit, he's going to retain all that strength and be at least as good as he was over the last couple of years."
Mullins confirmed that his stable star will follow the same route to Cheltenham as last term, and he also expects Sir Des Champs' campaign to unfold along similar lines, with the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown on December 8 earmarked for his return.
Mullins added that Quevega, which will become the first horse to win six times at the Cheltenham Festival if she delivers in March, is to be trained with her usual spring cameo in mind again.