Legendary jockey Sir Anthony McCoy rolled back the years when getting the better of old rival Ruby Walsh coming out on top in the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland at the Curragh aboard Quizical.
The record-breaking 20-times champion jumps jockey, who enjoyed multiple big race successes at the Cheltenham Festival during an astonishing career, gave the Sheila Lavery trained four-year-old a masterful front running ride to beat eight other top jockeys from both codes in the rae which had won massive support throughout the racing industry and with the public.
McCoy quickly had Quizical travelling sweetly at the head of affairs and despite top weight the heavily-backed 11-4 favourite responded gamely to the famous McCoydrive beat Aussie Valentine, under great friend and long-time rival Ruby Walsh, by 1/2 a length.
The 45-year-old, who performed a Frankie Dettori-style flying dismount afterwards but ended upon his backside, said: “We can be very proud of horse racing in general in Ireland. The stable staff, racegoers, owners, trainers, jockeys – everyone has given so much support to the amazing man that Pat Smullen is.
“Pat is a special person and a great friend to us all. Unfortunately it’s tough and sad circumstances what we’re doing today, but it just shows you what a brilliant sport this is.”
“I genuinely always thought I was going to win! No, seriously, you want to compete against the very best, that is what sport is all about, and these are the best jockeys we are ever likely to see. “I said I would never ride in a horse race ever again and I meant it, but I’m glad I did today. You want to compete against the best and that is what has made this special.”
Smullen, Dermot Weld’s former stable jockey, was forced into retirement after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is currently undergoing a second round of treatment and determined to do as much as he can to help others fight the disease.
“This is not about me. This is about people who are in this situation and we are out to raise a lot of money and make a huge difference going forward and give people confidence, as it does me. What a privilege to be involved in what is a great industry.”
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Geraghty Set for October Return
Top jockey Barry Geraghty, who has 38 Cheltenham Festival successes to his name, has revealed that he is set to return to action in October following a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a broken leg.
The 39-year-old came to grief aboard Peregrine Run in the Topham Chase at the Aintree Grand National Festival on April 5, forcing him to miss the winning ride on Champ in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle later that afternoon.
He had hope to be riding at this month’s Listowel Festival, but on the advice of his surgeon, decided to give the leg more time to recover. The two times Irish Champion, who has been riding out in recent weeks for Jessica Harrington, Gordon Elloitt and Gavin Cromwell told Attheraces: “I saw my surgeon and he’s pleased with the progress, but feels I should give it one more month to strengthen before returning to race-riding.
Geraghty, who has had at least one winner at each Cheltenham Festival since his first victory in 2002 – except for the 2017 meeting – is the number one retained rider for leading irish owner JP McManus.
It will be fantastic to see him back doing what he does best and he is sure to have some top class rides at Cheltenham’s first meeting of the new season next month – The Showcase which takes place on Friday, October 25th and Saturday, October 26th.
Nicholls Targeting BetVictor Gold Cup with Brio Conti
Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls has revealed that Brio Conti is being targeted at the BetVictor Gold Cup, the feature race of a fantastic three-days of action at Cheltenham in November.
The Dicheat handler has won the valuable 2m 4f handicap chase twice courtesy of Al Ferof (2012) and Caid Du Berlais (2014).
Speaking at a recent owners’ open day, he said: “Brio was one from one over fences before suffering a tendon injury nearly two years ago, but he came back as good as ever over hurdles, running a really good fourth in the Coral Cup. “He’s hard to get fit, so providing I can get a run into him beforehand I’d like to take him for the BetVictor in November.”
Brio Conti ran a cracker at this year’s Cheltenham Festival when a two length fourth of 25 to Willima Henry in the ultra-competitive Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle off a mark of 148.
His current chase makr is 3lb lower, so he is undoubtedly a well-handicapped horse capable of bagging a big prize like the BetVictor Gold Cup. there is currently no ante post betting on the race, but when odds do become available there is little doubt in my mind that Brio Conti is well worth considering each-way should his price be favourable.