McCoy gets back down to business with double
Tony McCoy was back doing what he does best yesterday by riding his first two winners since being crowned the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
McCoy had become the first jockey to lift the television trophy just under 48 hours earlier, and after one day of interviews and enforced rest due to the freeze, he returned for a distinctly unglamorous afternoon of all-weather bumpers at Kempton.
Rather than risking his already battered frame with potential falls ahead of the William Hill King George VI Chase meeting on Stephen's Day, in which the Ulsterman reckoned his ride would "probably be Albertas Run", this was an opportunity to perfect his timing on the Flat.
The meeting was welcomed by trainers, with the specially arranged two-mile Polytrack races allowing winning jumpers and hurdlers to take part when otherwise they would be cooped up in their stables.
McCoy took a daring path up the inside rail on his first winner, the Nicky Henderson-trained Blue Monster (10/1), in the 1.20 "Jumpers' Bumper", before Giorgio Quercus took division one of the kempton.co.uk event with conviction.
Not seen since showing smart juvenile hurdle form in the spring of 2009, the 7/4 favourite Giorgio Quercus was not released from the McCoy grip until deep into the home straight.
"It's better than sitting at home," said the champion. "I'd rather be here than watching it on TV. It actually makes you appreciate how good the guys on the Flat are, you've got to have a lot of respect for them."
Of Giorgio Quercus, McCoy added: "He hadn't run for a long time, but he's quite straightforward and I just wanted to make sure he finished his race."
If the King George beats the snow when the now-white covers are peeled off on Sunday, the race could yet feature the Paul Nicholls-trained Noland, who was just beaten by stablemate Pepe Simo (even-money favourite) in the Christmas At Kempton "Jumpers' Bumper".
It was the Grade One-winning hurdler and chaser's first outing for two years.
"That was brilliant -- that was the first gallop he's had and he could easily run on Sunday. I'll have to talk to his owner (John Hales) first," said Nicholls.
Of Pepe Simo, who did not come off the bridle, he added: "He could run in the Wayward Lad Novices' Chase here on Monday if the ground's good."
Nicholls also won the second division of Giorgio Quercus' race through Advisor (8/1), which survived a stewards' enquiry after getting close to Eradicate inside the final furlong.
"He had a breathing operation in the summer and was in the Ladbroke before it was called off. We'll find another good handicap for him," added Nicholls.
Warren Greatrex took the opportunity to run a number of horses in the famous Malcolm Denmark silks, and emerged triumphant on two occasions.
Lightly raced seven-year-old Chain Of Command (11/2) got the ball rolling as he completed his set of racing disciplines in the Panoramic Bar And Restaurant event.
"He won a beginners' chase here, then was second at Ffos Las, where he got stuck in the mud," explained Greatrex.
"I think he needs right-handed tracks, places like this and Sandown, and he could have quite a good spring campaign."
The more experienced chaser Free World (14/1) then benefited from a positive Wayne Hutchinson in the Bistro Prices From £42 "Jumpers' Bumper".
"He was striding out nicely and off a mark of about 120, he might have a good race in him," added the Lambourn trainer.
Noel Chance's Mintiverdi (12/1), which struck on the Kempton grass course on her previous start in February 2009, shaded newcomer Captain Kirkton in the Day Time, Night Time, Great Time bumper.
"She's a decent mare," said Chance. "She won last year but she was just out of sorts and not right."