Monday 26 September 2016

Veteran Somersby still has legs to rain on McCoy's parade

Wayne Bailey

Published 25/04/2015 | 02:30

McCoy and Somersby at Punchestown in 2014. Now aged 11, Somersby is getting on in years but his second place in the Champion Chase proved he has something left to offer at this level
McCoy and Somersby at Punchestown in 2014. Now aged 11, Somersby is getting on in years but his second place in the Champion Chase proved he has something left to offer at this level

Around 630 years ago, Canterbury Tales author Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem about two lovers named Troilus and Criseyde which included the line 'there is an end to everything, to good things as well'.

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In modern English, that would read as 'all good things must come to an end', and so it is with regard to Tony McCoy, who hangs up his saddle today after an extraordinary career.

It would be tempting to lament his departure and there's no doubt that the racing scene will not be the same without him. But I think it's a time to celebrate his achievements and be happy about the fact that he is retiring happy and healthy while still on top of his game, rather than mourning his impending absence.

Some jockeys have not been so lucky when it comes to serious injury - the likes of JT McNamara, Robbie McNamara and Davy Condon immediately spring to mind.

I'd imagine, though, that McCoy will find life a little difficult at first - when giving interviews on TV, he seems a little unsure if retiring is the right thing to do.

But it would be a horrendous tragedy if he kept on going and ended up seriously injured, and I'm sure his wife and family will breathe a sigh of relief.

There have been many magic McCoy moments down through the years but as a betting man, my personal favourite has to be his ride on the 8/11 favourite Family Business in a novice chase at Southwell in 2002. The horse unseated McCoy at the tenth and was quickly pushed out to the maximum odds in-running on Betfair of 999/1.

But in a remarkable series of events, the remaining six horses all either fell, refused or unseated their rider.

Back then, it was legal to remount so McCoy jumped back on board Family Business and set off again from the point of his departure, completing the race on his own.

He crossed the line some ten minutes after the race had started and became the first jockey to be backed at 999/1 in-running and win.

Bookmakers protested, saying that Family Business had jumped the same fence twice, but the stewards declared that this was no reason to void a race.

Much to the delight of favourite-backers - and also those that backed him in-running at a massive price - the result stood.

It was typical of McCoy's attitude to every horse he rode no matter how big or small the race: never give up.

Fittingly, McCoy's last Grade One will be the Celebration Chase (3.15) which they've named after him this year, and Mr Mole has reasonably strong claims based on his Newbury win in February after which McCoy announced his upcoming retirement.

He later went off at 13/2 in the Champion Chase but his jumping wasn't fluid and his eighth place from nine runners leaves him with some questions to answer today.

He's a horse I've grown to like, especially having backed him at Newbury and I'm finding it hard to resist the temptation to have a sentimental bet on McCoy's last day on the job.

But that sentimental money is pushing his price a little too low for my liking (11/4) and I'm going to go with Somersby instead, which seems a decent bet at 13/2. Now aged 11, he's getting on in years but his second place in the Champion Chase proved he has something left to offer at this level.

Each-way

Keep a close eye on Roalco De Farges in the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase at Sandown (3.50). The Philip Hobbs-trained ten-year-old was second in a veterans' handicap chase at Ascot recently off 138 but the handicapper has treated him fairly and he runs off the same mark today. At 16/1, he can give each-way backers a good run for their money.

Today's selections

2.35 Sandown: Menorah

3.15 Sandown: Somersby

3.50 Sandown: Roalco De Farges (e/w)

4.15 Leicester: Aljamaaheer

5.20 Leicester: Storm The Stars

9.15 Wolverhampton: Alkawn

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