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In praise of jockeys

I can’t let the Festival week end without noting the general workaday heroism of our jockeys, both jumps and flat. They often come in for a lot of stick (excuse the pun) and if you don’t ride you can have no idea of the physical demands made on their bodies every day, and that’s not including kicks and falls and wasting to make weight.

For my money, these guys are the toughest athletes we have. Early starts, long journeys, seven day weeks on little food – no wonder Andrew Tinkler tweeted this morning that if he’d been lucky enough to win the one million that one of Nicky Henderson’s stable staff did this week on a yard five-timer, Tinkler would be straight off to Heathrow – not riding work the next morning as indeed the lottery winner was (full story here).

Anyway, props to Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy for yesterday; not just for having the wisdom to preserve the beloved Kauto Star after nine fences jumped, nor indeed the looks like you won’t even be placed ride on Synchronised to lift the Gold Cup. No, massive, massive respect for this brief exchange, redolent with meaning, between the two friends and competitors during the running of the Gold Cup, reported in the Racing Post.

Ruby said: “I was thinking about pulling up when
AP [McCoy] said ‘if I were you I’d be pulling up’.

The rest is history.

From the Mirror: AP with Synchronised ~ what a lovely Sadler's Wells face

On another cockles-of-my-heart note, Paul Nicholls is parading Kauto Star, Big Buck’s and Rock on Ruby through Ditcheat this lunchtime, in that order. Kauto Star in front, where he belongs.

AP McCoy

I’ve hardly mentioned racing since the flat season ended; at the moment there’s little to no racing to mention anyway.

I can’t let today go though without saying I hope AP wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in an hour or so.

I don’t want to diss other sportspeople, but can you put a golfer or a darts player in the same division as this Iron Man who has ridden over a 3000 winners, raced the equivalent of one and quarter times around the world, taken nigh on a thousand falls, gets up when we are all still asleep and travels the length and the breadth of the country to ride horses. All on a diet of a celery stick, hard runs and sweating to keep about a stone and a half under his natural weight. An inventory of his broken bones would include: a middle and lower vertebrae, both shoulder blades, ribs, an ankle, cheekbones, a wrist, a leg and chipped teeth.

To me it’s not in the same ball-park of achievement.

He’s going to win, it’s Written in the Stars.