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Tony McCoy: I got such a thrill from winning Ryanair Chase

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Jockey Tony McCoy, aboard Synchronised, celebrates winning the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase. Cheltenham Racing Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Jockey Tony McCoy, aboard Synchronised, celebrates winning the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase. Cheltenham Racing Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Jockey Tony McCoy, aboard Synchronised, celebrates winning the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase. Cheltenham Racing Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Tony McCoy ensured he would not leave his final Cheltenham Festival empty handed when Uxizandre led from pillar to post in the Ryanair Chase.

McCoy did not seem to fancy his chances much pre-race, but Alan King's seven-year-old put in some spectacular leaps on the way round.

He built up a sizeable advantage before McCoy gave him a breather coming down the hill and the challengers stacked up.

Last year's runner-up Hidden Cyclone, the favourite Don Cossack, Eduard and Johns Spirit had chances, but Nicky Henderson's mare Ma Filleule looked the biggest danger.

McCoy had saved plenty, though, and Uxizandre (16-1) kept up the gallop to win by five lengths.

Don Cossack was three and a quarter lengths behind Ma Filleule in third.

McCoy said: "I would love to say it's a relief, but I actually got such a thrill riding him. I was actually thinking I wouldn't mind riding the horse in next year's Champion Chase.

"He ran away with me for a mile and a half and I thought he would never keep it up, but I was quite happy coming down the hill, he kept looking at the television camera on his inside and I thought he had saved a bit for himself."

McCoy went on: "Fair play to Alan King, he had him spot on for today.

"It's great for JP and Noreen (McManus) as much as anything, they're the people I work for. They have been so good to me, so I'm delighted for JP and Noreen and all the family.

"It's nice. Cheltenham is about winning isn't?

"The thrill this horse gave me, I'll miss riding horses like this, the ones that run away with you and jump like stags. It has to happen at some point. It's a bit sad, but we will worry about it this time next year."

He added: "It's going to affect me more next year than this year, because I am still riding. This time next year I am going to miss it - I am missing it already and I haven't stopped yet.

"He stuck at it well and it's days like this I am going to miss."

McCoy's wife Chanelle said: "This is going to mean the world to him. When he got up and was heading into day three he wanted one more time to ride a winner at Cheltenham, to soak up the atmosphere and not finish his career without one more winner.

"He wanted that feeling one more time.

"He's not the most animated at the best of times, but this will absolutely mean the world to him."

McCoy's family were waiting in the winner's enclosure and while simultaneously thrilled and emotional after the rider's win, his father, Peadar said: "I hope he gets another one!"

JP McManus, to whom McCoy has enjoyed such a fantastic association as retained jockey, said: "I admire all the jockeys, but AP is some man. Christy Roche rang me some years ago and said 'he should be handicapped, not the horses' and I've always remembered that.

"We've never signed a contract or anything. I respect him and love everything he does."

When asked how he would replace McCoy, he said: "We've had him cloned."

PA Media