Monday 18 December 2017

From The Stands: AP hailed as patron saint of lost causes

WHILE Tony McCoy's achievement in reaching 4,000 winners is truly remarkable, the manner of his victory aboard Mountain Tunes at Towcester on Thursday was as ordinary as they come.

Ordinary, that is, for Tony McCoy.

We are indebted to Betfair for pointing out that no other jockey in the history of in-running betting, has ridden more horses that have hit the ceiling price of 1,000 (999/1) and won. In other words, McCoy has a happy knack of managing to get the head of the most hopeless case in front where it really matters – on the line.

"One of the most famous in-play highs," writes Barry Orr of Betfair, "came on January 23, 2002 when McCoy steered odds-on favourite Family Business to victory at Southwell.

"In one of the most remarkable races ever staged in Britain, all seven starters failed to put in a clear round. McCoy's mount fell with a circuit to race and five horses were still in contention.

"These five subsequently either fell, refused or unseated their riders and that prompted McCoy to remount Family Business and experience the most unlikely of victories, much to the delight of one brave Betfair punter who staked £4 at odds of 1,000 in-running on McCoy winning the race."

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THE Irish players can expect a series of one-to-ones with new manager Martin O'Neill this week. Apparently, he's a great believer in his powers of persuasion in those situations.

"Whenever you have time," he explains in a new book, The Manager by Mike Carson (Bloomsbury), "then it's worth having that individual meeting with players." He then instanced the case of Gareth Barry, who was anxious to leave Aston Villa when O'Neill arrived there. After their conversation, Barry stayed with Villa and proceeded to play his best football, eventually getting into the England team.

Carson, who interviewed all the top managers in England for his book, concludes about O'Neill: "He brings with him an energy that is both practical and positive. He welcomes the chance to address low confidence, and seems to bring about early results almost by sheer force of character."

Sounds like just the sort of manager the Irish squad needs right now.

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THE generosity of the GAA community is legendary and came to the fore once more when a fundraising cycle to honour the memory of former Laois footballer Martin Slevin raised almost €60,000.

Martin's experience, while in isolation in Burkitt's Haematology Ward in St James's Hospital, led to his desire to enhance and improve the situation for future patients and allow them to embrace a more positive approach in dealing with their treatment.

The initial goal was to raise €5-10k; however, with the support of Martin's widespread circle of friends, this was easily surpassed.

To ease the psychological burden of isolation, the Open Windows Project (invented by multimedia artist Denis Roche) in Burkitt's Ward allows the patient and their families to connect through a multimedia system in their room.

Martin was the first patient from the Open Windows project (before camera phones were in existence) to be granted permission to have personal images sent to him and so, while ill in St James's, he saw his new-born daughter shortly after her birth in December 2006.

Multimedia systems have just been installed in Burkitt's Ward and a donation made to the Irish Pilgrimage Trust Fund which is an organisation supporting people with special needs for both pilgrimage and respite.

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ssport@independent.ie

Sunday Independent

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