It has always been about winning for Tony McCoy and even in the name of charity the 20-times champion National Hunt jockey made a triumphant one-off return to the saddle on Gannicus for the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Race at Doncaster yesterday.
While the 15 other jockeys were just pleased to be taking part, McCoy’s professional pride would not let him be beaten in a race that is now in its sixth year and has raised over £500,000 for Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College.
When he hung up his boots in April everyone believed the Northern Irishman when he said his days in the saddle were over – but former trainer Berry can be a persuasive character.
On the opening of the new facility in Malton earlier this year, Berry cornered McCoy and “bullied” him into agreeing to take part.
In the lead up to the race the banter had been flying, with the likes of Johnny Murtagh and Luke Harvey coming in for most of it.
And it was At The Races presenter Harvey, a former Welsh National-winning jockey, who loomed up large looking the only threat entering the final furlong.
Whether it was his horse, Big Storm Coming, or Harvey who cried enough first is unclear, but he faded with Next Stop finishing with a flourish for Billy Newnes to take second.
Nothing could prevent the result the 6,600 crowd wanted to see, though, and the 7-2 favourite won by two lengths
On his breathless return to the winner’s enclosure, McCoy was quick to state he would definitely not be taking part in anything similar again – with only one caveat.
“That’s definitely it now unless JP (McManus, McCoy’s former boss) tells me I’ve got to ride for him!” he said.
“It was never in doubt. Everything went to plan, although it always does when you win. He travelled and we know he stays well. I’m having a bit of a blow now, but it’s for a great cause.
“Fair play to Jack Berry. He’s done all the hard work and the Injured Jockeys Fund are benefiting, but Jack bullied me into it. When I retired that was the end but when I saw Jack in Malton I couldn’t really say no.
“Days like this make me realise how lucky I was doing it for 20 years, I’ve really missed it but it’s over now, that’s it.”
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