Newbury’s Super Saturday
Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury Racecourse on 7th February, 2015, proved to be a truly historic occasion.
The greatest Jump jockey the sport has ever known, AP McCoy, announced that he would retire at the end of the current season following his victory in the Betfair Price Rush Chase on Mr Mole (pictured). This was McCoy’s 200th win of the current season and came in the colours of his boss JP McManus.
The focus of the race beforehand had been on 2014 Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy, who was making his seasonal return after injury, but the Gary Moore-trained chaser unseated Jamie Moore three fences from home.
McCoy said after the race: “It’s going to be the last time that I ride 200 winners because, having spoken to Dave (Roberts, agent) and JP (McManus), I am going to be retiring at the end of the season.
“I want to go out at the top and I want to go out as champion jockey. It will be my 20th year, if I can win the jockeys’ championship, and I want to go out while I still enjoy riding and while I am still relatively at the top.
“JP and Dave are the only people that I had spoken to – Chanelle (his wife) didn’t even know until I had Dave down on Monday night to have a chat about it.
“Before that, JP was the only person I had spoken to about it. My mum and dad don’t even know, they are going to find out on television, and I think they will be happy, to be fair.”
There was some consolation for the Moore team when 20/1 shot Violet Dancer landed the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, handing the stable its third win in the contest.
Elsewhere on the card, Coneygree made it three out of three over fences in the Betfair Denman Chase and connections are now mulling which race to go for at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Better Odds With Betfair Price Novices’ Chase was reduced to two runners following the withdrawal of Salmanazar and saw 2/13 shot Kings Palace take the spoils with Tom Scudamore aboard.
Paying tribute to AP McCoy, Scudamore said after the race: “It was pleasure to work alongside AP when I was in my teens and early 20s at Pond House.
“I learnt so much from him and he is a top man. He deserves all the accolades.”
Julian Thick, Managing Director at Newbury, commented: “We have seen it all at Newbury’s Super Saturday – it has been a truly remarkable day.
“With AP McCoy, the greatest jockey our sport has ever known, announcing his retirement, the Moore family experiencing the highs and lows with Sire De Grugy and Violet Dancer plus a popular local winner in Coneygree – today had it all.
“It just goes to prove you can’t predict anything in racing.”
McCoy, 40, is set to win his 20th consecutive Jump jockeys’ championship in April. He commented later in the day: “I have been very lucky to have a great way of life for the last 25 years. It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to retire when I was champion jockey – I thought 20 championships is a good number. Time waits for no man in sports and it wasn’t going to wait for me.
“I got Dave Roberts, my agent, down on Monday night. And JP (McManus) was the only other person I really spoke about it to. My wife Chanelle did not really know what the conversation with Dave was going to be about.
“Having spoken to Dave, I decided the right thing to do was to retire at the end of the season but to announce it before. We thought to ride 200 winners was a good achievement and that would be a good time to announce it then.
“Normally, you would just retire and give up. Dave though it best, and JP thought it a good idea, that I announce it beforehand so people could come and abuse me for one last time. I think all the decisions I have made in my life, I have made myself.
“I have been lucky that I have had really good people to bounce things off, like Dave or Chanelle or whoever and had very good advice but at the end of the day decisions in my life have always been my decisions.
“What is the best decision you have ever made? To become a jockey was the best decision I ever made. I have had a great way of life and I will really miss it. My mum and dad have no idea – they wanted me to retire so I thought they would probably get more satisfaction out of hearing it on television.
“I love riding, I love the thrill of it. I just hopped off the ground from Goodwood Mirage which is part of the job. In some ways, I will miss that. I am probably the only person in the world who will miss bouncing myself off the ground.
“That is what challenges you in life a little bit. It is what has challenged me for the last 25 years. I will miss it. I will never find anything that will replace that buzz. I am aware of it but in sport, you cannot keep on forever.
“There are so many people to thank, obviously my mum and dad, the late Billy Rock, the late Toby Balding, his wife, Jim Bolger, Martin Pipe, obviously JP and Noreen (McManus) have been fantastic, all the horses, all the stable lads, all the ambulance drivers and the doctors who have picked me up so many times over the years, lads who have driven me around the country, lads in the weighing room who have been great colleagues, my valets who look after me every day, so many people and obviously Dave Roberts who has been with me from the day I have been here (in Britain). There have been a lot of people who have made it all possible.”
Paul Nicholls said:”It’s been a pleasure to have anything to do with AP and he gave that horse a peach of a ride considering he gave them 10 lengths at the start. He has been a great ambassador for the sport and no-one can say enough about him.
“This has taken me a bit by surprise but it doesn’t surprise me totally because you have to make a decision one day and he has probably decided that it is the right one.
“Everybody will miss him riding because he has been such a legend but you can’t go on forever. He is still riding as well as he has ever ridden and that’s probably the right time to go out.
“I was talking to Toby Balding one day at Exeter and he said that, if I wanted to use a very good claimer, AP was the best one he had ever had. I just remember those words and we used him a few times – he rode for us when I had just started but we didn’t have enough horses going at the time to keep him and he went to ride all those winners for Martin Pipe. He was a great guy to deal with and a brilliant jockey.“