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Friday 24 January 2020

Louise Hogan: Cup overflowethas McCoy knew he was on to winner

AP McCoy gives Synchronised a kiss
after winning the Cheltenham Gold
Cup yesterday, watched by JP McManus
AP McCoy gives Synchronised a kiss after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup yesterday, watched by JP McManus
Louise Elsworth, Jonjo O'Neill's daughter, his wife Jackie O'Neill and his son AJ.
Nicole O'Shea and Lisa Healy from Limerick at the Cheltenham Gold cup yesterday
Alex Ferguson and his former player Bryan Robson.
JP McManus's daughter-in-law Anne-Marie

Louise Hogan

IT was from the moment that he rolled out of bed that he knew it was going to be his day. And, so it was. From the second, the 'Iron man' himself, jockey AP McCoy, set foot on the turf for Cheltenham Gold Cup day he could do no wrong.

Inside the lines of cars, buses and whirring helicopters winging their way to the track there was a heated debate under way as to whether the veteran Gold Cup winner, Kauto Star, could add to his war chest.

Yet those punters carousing and punting heavily had their doubts as many backed last year's winner Long Run to favourite, while others put their faith in the famous colours of Limerick businessman JP McManus.

And, it was the famous emerald green, white and yellow colours that picked off the competition one by one as 8-1 shot Synchronised with McCoy aboard was carefully steered through the pack to win the Gold Cup.

There was no arguing with the 'Superman' theme tune as thousands thronged towards the winner's enclosure to deliver an epic three cheers as McCoy double punched the air, before leaning forward and placing his two arms around the horse's neck.

"He doesn't look like a Gold Cup horse," McCoy, who last won the Gold Cup in 1997, said. "But, as I said, he's all heart. He has more heart than any horse you could ever sit on and that's why he's won a Gold Cup, 'cause it's not size or stature," he said.

"I said to the boss (trainer Jonjo O'Neill) this morning, I said today is the day. I said it's going to happen today. I just felt it.

"Maybe I was getting my confidence back or something but I felt like something was going to go right."

Delighted owner JP McManus said every single win at Cheltenham was wonderful, but the Gold Cup was special.

"He is home bred as well," he said, adding the connection goes back many a year. "It is a very special day, a very special moment. It gives everybody a great lift.

"What can I say? I just feel very, very excited."

It had been all "picture and no sound" in the McCoy household up until Gold Cup day.

"This will mean everything to him and because he gave it such a superb ride, it wasn't just an easy win, it'll be even more the sweeter for him as he has really proved he is absolutely the best rider out there," his wife, Chanelle, added with a smile.

"We might have walked away this year without a single winner," Jane McCoy, his sister, said.

"We call him Anthony at home -- he gets all three titles (AP, Tony) and probably lots of others up until today. There is always a lot of pressure on them and huge expectation."

Plenty of heads were turning to see Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, whose horse What A Friend fell at the second fence in the Gold Cup, standing alongside his former players Bryan Robson and Andy Cole as the race got under way.

Few heads were turning to recognise one of NAMA's top 10 clients, the Cork developer Michael O'Flynn.

He had travelled to Cheltenham to see his horse, China Rock, contest the Gold Cup.

Earlier, it had been a first- time Cheltenham Festival win for trainer Tom Mullins, brother of Irish champion trainer Willie, when Alderwood in the McManus colours took the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle.

It was the first win of the festival, and the day, for 16-time champion jockey McCoy, before he went on to land the Gold Cup.

Match

"That's my first winner and I hope it's not the last. It's great to do it and match Tony (another brother) and Willie, and my father and my first cousin Seamus in having winners at the festival," joked Mr Mullins.

"I've been feeling left out and it's lovely to get it on my CV."

Punters still had something to shout about despite a dismal start to the week for Irish-trained winners, with a few of the major festival 'bankers', including the legendary Big Buck's and Quevega, ensuring people had a few quid to bring home.

Irish Independent

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