Tony McCoy registered his 150th winner in a season for the 16th time in the past 17 years when coaxing home Buddy Bolero to victory in a handicap chase at Leicester.
Ever self-critical, the Antrim native blamed himself for being slow in reaching the milestone this time around. The only year in which the jockey has failed to ride 150 winners since 1996 came in the season in which he broke his back. Yet he still finished that 2007/8 campaign with 140 winners and was crowned champion.
McCoy (right) was seen at his best aboard David Pipe's Buddy Bolero which looked to be under pressure four out, but he responded well to his partner to win in the heavy conditions.
McCoy said that apart from not having reached the 150-mark in record time, he was satisfied with the season so far, particularly with the number of decent opportunities his employer JP McManus has lined up for Cheltenham. "I'm happy the boss has a lot of chances coming up," McCoy said. "Whether I'm on the right ones is another thing."
There will be a number of difficult choices for the 17-times champion to make before the Festival. McManus' Sunnyhill Boy heads trainer Jonjo O'Neill's five contenders in the list of 84 entries for the John Smith's Grand National, published yesterday. Weights will be published on February 12.
O'Neill said last year's runner-up was ready for a run over hurdles before his serious Aintree preparation. The Cheltenham Gold Cup and the three-mile handicap chase at the Festival are two possible stepping stones on the way for Sunnyhill Boy, beaten by Neptune Collonges in last year's National.
Meanwhile, jockey Liam Treadwell was banned for 12 days for taking the wrong course on the Venetia Williams-trained Special Robon in the opening-novices' handicap chase at Leicester.
"It was a shocking ride. It was totally my fault. I came into the straight (leading) and thought for a split-second that we were missing out the first fence. I must apologise to connections," Treadwell said.
The jockey went some way to making amends an hour later when he drove Reginaldinho to victory for Williams. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
John Smith's Grand National, Ladbrokes bet: 16/1 On His Own, Prince De Beauchene; 20/1 Tidal Bay, Colbert Station, Seabass, Sunnyhillboy, Teaforthree, Join Together, Katenko; 25/1 bar.