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.
I haven’t read any printed matter on AP’s Grand National win yet, so I am hoping my take is original, but somehow I doubt it.
Yesterday morning, having backed my long-term fancy State of Play I considered the well-made point that always backing AP to break his National duck was a bet that would eventually pay out. AP being what he is, a punter’s favourite, was hardly ever likely to dot up on a big outsider and the fact that yesterday’s ride entered the National Market at 50/1, but had contracted to 10s by the off was due to the McCoy factor.
As it happened I forgot to back him, partly because I couldn’t remember which horse he had finally opted for and partly because I was not that convinced in the rhetoric. Although my own choice could not, and probably won’t ever win, I can still rejoice with all true NH fans that our greatest jump jockey has finally shoved that monkey off his back.
This was a triumvirate of broken National maidens yesterday. Jonjo and JP, the trainer and owner, also enjoyed their first ever National win. No wonder there was a bit of salt water shed.
And how interesting, to me anyway, that the horse (who according to Jonjo couldn’t really win) was named in an exact opposite to how AP approaches riding, and one assumes, his whole life. AP is always pushing it. He pushes himself and he pushes his horses. He even pushes those around him. One of my favourite AP anecdotes is this after his mate Ruby Walsh took a bad fall at the Paddy Power Open meeting in November 2008:
“They took a scan of the spleen. The surgeon said it was ruptured but he wanted to keep me in for 10 days of observation to see if it might start to heal itself. I’m thinking, ‘Jesus, this is too sore to ever heal. Just take the f****r out. McCoy says, ‘Ten days! Ruby can’t be waiting that long. You should rip it out.’ The surgeon says he can’t just take out a spleen. But McCoy insists, ‘Take it out.” Walsh describes how pal Tony McCoy helped his recovery from that Cheltenham injury.
Ruby was back in 5 weeks flat to ride Kauto Star to victory in the King George. Ruby also took a nasty yesterday from Celestial Halo and missed the National. Maybe it’s just as well AP was otherwise engaged and couldn’t instruct Ruby’s doctor to do likewise with the arm.
You’d have to guess he’d be a hard man to live with, but he is a genius in the saddle and that doesn’t come easy. I don’t always love his rides, so insistent is he at times, but no-one could deny him his National win forever and at 35 I am glad he’s done it.
Maybe Tony, just maybe, you can relax a little bit now?