JP raises 4,000 glasses inAP's honour
With one ride, the sort of eyeballs out, chin-jutting daily tour de force that only he could produce, AP McCoy careered into history at Towcester by powering home – no, make that carrying home – his 4,000th winner with all the exquisite timing we have come to expect from Britain and Ireland's greatest sportsman.
"What a man! What a ride," beamed JP McManus, the owner of the history-making winner, Mountain Tunes as he declared a drink on the house for every one of the 4,000-strong crowd – yes, one for every winner – who had made it to the lovely Northamptonshire track to witness the most wondrous of sporting landmarks.
Fifteen close friends and family had turned out to watch him vault the hurdles into yet more folklore, including his daughter Eve, who had warned McCoy sternly after the cancellation of her sixth birthday party yesterday: "Daddy, you better win."
Towcester's usual free admission attracted a crowd three times bigger than normal, but cheers turned to anticlimax as McCoy's first chance, 3/1 favourite Church Field, failed to score. So just one left or the whole circus would have had to move to Southwell today.
With just two flights left in the Weatherbys Novice Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs, that seemed a certainty as McManus' inexperienced former point-to-pointer, in its first race in England, appeared beaten.
Then, the real McCoy resurfaced, the one with the demonic drive, be it in the 3.10 at Towcester or the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The man who can galvanise losers into wholly improbable winners.
It was why McManus noted: "It's like Vincent O'Brien said of Lester Piggott – you'd rather have him on your side than against you."
Suddenly, it really did feel like Cheltenham as manic cheers pushed McCoy and the 6/4 favourite over the last onto the tail of, and past, the fading Kris Spin.
After nearly 22 years, after about 1,000 falls in some 15,000-plus rides, after countless broken bones and an estimated year and half just sweating in the sauna or bath, was this, as his old mate, clerk of the course, Robert Bellamy, hailed it, "the greatest achievement of all in sport"? (© Daily Telegraph, London)