TONY McCOY admits it will be a relief to bag his 4,000th winner as he moved to within one of the landmark total by steering Minella For Steak to victory at Chepstow.
The 18-times champion was due to ride Mission Complete in the NFU Mutual Supports RABI Handicap Hurdle but trainer Jonjo O'Neill took that one out on account of the testing ground, prompting McCoy to switch to stablemate Minella For Steak.
McCoy replaced 10lb-claimer James Huxham aboard Minella For Steak and he travelled well throughout the three-mile heat aboard the well-supported 3/1 favourite.
He opted to kick for home early and appeared to be in total control approaching the penultimate flight only for Heronshaw to throw down a late challenge.
Heronshaw drew level over the last but McCoy kept pressing his mount and Minella For Steak responded, digging deep to win by three-quarters of a length for owners Gay Smith and John Magnier.
McCoy had earlier been out of luck as El Macca could finish only fifth in the opening RABI Gateway Project Maiden Hurdle.
He said of his winner: "He's amazing this horse, because he really struggles to breathe. He's been running on better ground and he's won twice now on the heaviest ground possible. We're all supposed to be experts in this game and if anyone was riding him, or had anything to do with him, you wouldn't believe he could win on this ground."
McCoy will head to Towcester, where he has two booked rides for O'Neill today. The 39-year-old gets the leg-up aboard Church Field in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle (2.10) and Mountain Tunes in the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle (3.10).
Church Field, owned by JP McManus, won four consecutive races this summer, but has been unplaced on his last two outings at Newton Abbot and Cheltenham. Mountain Tunes, an Irish point-to-point winner in March, is also owned by McManus and will be making his British debut on his first start for O'Neill.
Asked about the chances of his mounts, the jockey said: "It would be great if one of them won. For my riding career, the sooner the better that one of them wins so I can get on with trying to have a few winners."
Officials at Towcester are excited about the prospect of McCoy achieving the feat at their track. Clerk of the course Robert Bellamy believes it would be "a feather in their cap" if McCoy can post his all-important victory at the Northamptonshire venue.
He said: "Everyone was delighted to see him have that winner at Chepstow and hopefully we'll have a nice crowd here tomorrow.
"It would obviously be fantastic for Towcester if he could get the 4,000th winner here. It would be a great feather in our cap and would give us great publicity as well, of course.
"Hopefully there are no issues with the weather, we'll have a good day and if he could do it, we'd all be delighted."