McCoy on Wichita Lineman, left, had it all to do in the race's final yards. Press Association

Tony McCoy’s best-ever win — Wichita Lineman at Cheltenham 2009

“I thought to myself afterwards, and I don’t think I was being arrogant, you know what, you did alright there.”

ASK TONY MCCOY to pick out his greatest win and he has no shortage of options.

The greatest-ever jumps jockey added another milestone to his CV today when he rode Mountain Tunes to win at Towcester, the 4,000th victory of his career.

But there is one win that stands above them all for McCoy and for horse racing fans: his legendary ride on Wichita Lineman at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival.

Sent off the 5-1 favourite for the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase, Jonjo O’Neill’s runner never jumped fluidly and was lost in the pack as the race entered its final mile.

As patient as he had always been in more than 3,000 wins to that point, McCoy did just enough to keep in touch and looked set to finish third with a few hundred yards to go.

“It seemed to take an age to get past Choc Thornton on Nenuphar Collonges on my left,” he wrote in his 2011 book My Autobiography.

“We must have only had about 50 yards to run when we got past him into second place, but once we did, my horse could see the other horse in front of him and he could see that he could catch him. I asked him for one final lung-bursting effort.


PA Images

“Every stride we took brought us closer to the leader but also closer to the line. One stride took us up to his quarters, then his withers. Almost there. I didn’t even look up to see where the winning post was. I just drove with all my strength, helping my willing partner as much as I could.

Stride, stride, stride, one, two, three. Gotcha! There’s the winning post. Yes!

YouTube Credit: RUKTV1

The win was a popular one among festival punters and, as he reflected on the manner of victory, McCoy knew he had done something special.

“It was only after we crossed the winning line that I was aware of the noise coming from the stands. It was Cheltenham, Wichita Lineman was a well-backed favourite, and the punters were cheering. I got a kick out of it as well and I couldn’t help but smile.

“I was a bit high on the emotion of it all, carried by the crowd and the occasion, but also I suppose by the fact that victory seemed unlikely from a long way out. It was probably one of the better rides that I have given any horse; in fact I’d say that in my own little head I thought it was probably the best ride I have ever given a horse.

“I thought I made a difference. It was similar to Pridwell in the 1998 Aintree Hurdle in that regard.

I have ridden plenty of winners that anybody could have ridden. There are plenty of rides that have been acclaimed in the press as top-class rides that simply weren’t. Wichita Lineman was different. I don’t think that everybody could have won on him.

I thought to myself afterwards, and I don’t think I was being arrogant, you know what, you did alright there.

WATCH: Tony McCoy reaches 4,000 winners in thrilling ride at Towcester

Real McCoy: the best pictures from AP’s historic 4,000th winner

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.