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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 6 December, 2019

McCoy: 'There’s days where I’d give anything to go back and ride at Cheltenham'

AP McCoy on the magic of the Cheltenham Festival.

AS A MULTIPLE-TIME Champion Jockey, AP McCoy stood down from a schooling session at Newbury racecourse recently, with this week’s Cheltenham Festival on the horizon, feeling regret.

For so long the main man on the Cotswolds’ most attractive week, McCoy is now left to take his place on the terraces alongside the tens of thousands who, for over two decades, celebrated his hundreds of winners past the post and into the victor’s enclosure.

Four years since prevailing in his final Cheltenham race, the Ryanair Chase, on board the Alan King-trained Uxizandre, the longing for a Festival return lingers strongly for the Antrim man.

“There’s days where I’d give anything to go back and ride at Cheltenham,” he says.

AP McCoy onboard Uxizandre celebrates AP McCoy celebrates winning his final Cheltenham race, on board Uxizandre. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I rode a horse around Newbury racecourse last Sunday morning [week] and I came away thinking: ‘I’d love to go to Cheltenham next week and be able to ride there and for no-one to know it was me’.

“It can’t be done, unfortunately. Every sports person has a time limit and I’m no different.”

Now that he has hung up his saddle for good, McCoy finds himself feeling much more relaxed in the lead-in to the four most eagerly awaited days of the National Hunt calendar, not that that fills the gaping void created by his non-participation.

Owning, training or, in his case, riding at Cheltenham has no match, he insists, especially on the Friday — Gold Cup day — where he so often came to the fore, winning the week’s showpiece on two occasions.

Sure who could forget that 2012 triumph on Synchronised?

“It’s very different in that I don’t have the same excitement, the same nervousness and the anticipation is not the same.

AP AP McCoy joined Kevin Kilbane, Matt Williams and Niall Quinn to announce Virgin Media's Spectacular Week of Sport. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“But, from a racing person who loves the sport, I know it is the biggest week of the year in jump racing; it’s what so many people look forward to.

“If you’re an owner, trainer or jockey, all you want to do is buy a horse or ride a horse or train a horse that can win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There is nothing like it.”

Andy Dunne joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey to discuss Joe Schmidt’s undroppables and how France might attack Ireland’s predictability in The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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