Sunday 21 January 2018

McCoy's magic may not be enough to thwart Rendezvous

IT was well covered in yesterday's paper and there'll be more about it today – but I couldn't let this week's article go by without mentioning Tony McCoy, who I'd consider to be the greatest sportsman of our time.

As readers will know, Thursday's victory at Towcester aboard Mountain Tunes was his 4,000th career win over jumps and it's those type of mind-blowing figures which have ensured that the Antrim native has been named champion jockey for 18 consecutive years. Are there any other individuals or indeed teams which have remained at the top of their game for nigh on two decades?

Recently, I was at a mass where the priest spoke about humility. Humility, he explained, was a paradox; when you think you have it, you've lost it.

Despite his many achievements, McCoy remains extremely modest, which is a rare quality in today's celebrity-driven sporting world.

I read and watched some of his interviews since Thursday and while he admitted he was delighted to reach the milestone, it struck me how he constantly attributed his success to others such as his wife, his family, his agent, JP McManus and Jonjo O'Neill.

It was typical of McCoy, who never lets success go to his head and his appetite for learning from every ride is never satisfied.

That drive to improve reminds me of some interesting stats which I think I mentioned in this paper three or four years ago. Basically, if a horse which was ridden by McCoy either fell, pulled-up or unseated on its latest outing and McCoy is booked to ride it again, take note. Had you backed such horses each-way since 2003, you'd have had 60 winners and 120 placed bets from 282 races and shown a level stakes profit of over 34 points.

That it has proved lucrative to follow may be just coincidence, but I'd like to think that it's more to do with McCoy's determination to atone for his mistakes and a willingness to learn from previous unsuccessful rides.

I'm not saying you should back such horses blindly but I'd certainly think twice before opposing the champion under those circumstances.

There are no qualifiers today, although McCoy does have reasonable claims on each of his four rides including Ahyaknowyerself (5/1) in the Grade Two Totepool Enter The Ten To Follow Elite Hurdle at Wincanton (2.05).

That horse was largely unchallenged when hacking up in a handicap at Market Rasen last time but I'm not convinced he should have been put up 19lb. I reckon he could find himself a little out of his depth in a better quality race today.

Instead, my hard-earned will be on Jeremy Scott's Melodic Rendezvous at 9/4. He showed plenty of promise in some novice races last season including a victory in a Grade One at Sandown, although connections were left disappointed when he later scoped badly and had to put his Cheltenham Festival plans on hold. If he goes well today, he may be trained with the Champion Hurdle in mind.

At Doncaster, the November Handicap (3.35) brings the Flat season to a close but it's especially tricky this year with the ground expected to be testing. Around 16/1, Communicator gets a tentative vote each-way from Andrew Balding's yard.

He came second in this last year off a 3lb higher mark and it would be no surprise to see him in the thick of the action once again this afternoon.

Each-way outsider

A good case could be made for at least five horses in the Betfred Goals Galore Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster (2.25) but five-year-old Spinatrix might be worth keeping onside each-way if she goes off near her forecast price of 12/1.

Regular jockey Connor Beasley won't be allowed to use his claim in this one but the mare has been holding her own in some decent handicaps lately and deserves her spot in Listed company today.

Today's selections

12.50 Naas: Diakali

2.05 Wincanton: Melodic Rendezvous

2.25 Doncaster: Spinatrix (e/w)

3.0 Doncaster: Prussian

3.15 Wincanton: Fox Appeal

3.35 Doncaster: Communicator (e/w)

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