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McCoy grabs glory with yet another vintage finish.

Byline: Jon Lees

THERE were winners galore in another championship winning campaign for Tony McCoy but many of the prestige prizes had gone elsewhere until on the final day of season the inimitable jockey produced one of his vintage efforts to snatch Bet365 Gold Cup glory on Hennessy.

Trainer Carl Llewellyn may have given up hope but McCoy has forged a reputation on defying probability and his perseverance was fittingly rewarded when Hennessy denied Briery Fox in the dying strides of the pounds 165,000 race.

It was heart-stopping for Llewellyn and owner Malcolm Denmark and heartbreaking for connections of Briery Fox and luckless rider Mark Bradburne, who had thought victory was theirs as they jumped to the front at the last fence.

Hennessy was back in fourth place with six lengths to make up but, in a performance reminiscent of McCoy's Cheltenham success on Wichita Lineman, he swept past his three rivals up the Sandown hill to win by a short head with Lacdoudal third and long-time leader Church Island fourth.

Llewellyn, godfather to McCoy's daughter Eve, said: He was good, wasn't he. At the Pond I thought he had a chance, but the rest of the race I didn't think he had much chance because he was never really flowing, not jumping that well. He didn't jump the Railway fences that well but it was just my luck we had the right guy on top.

"It was a hell of a ride. He was beat at all stages. Going to the first I was happy and after that I wasn't, until two circuits later. He's a tough horse and he's not very quick, but he keeps going. AP is amazing. The rest of us could win on horses that were the best horses but he consistently wins on horses that aren't the best horses, which is the true test." Wichita Lineman was McCoy's only Cheltenham festival win this season while his other significant victories were in December when he took the Lexus Chase on Exotic Dancer, Boylesports Hurdle on Binocular and Tingle Creek on Master Minded.

He rode Hennessy after agent Dave Roberts had picked him out as one "open to improvement".

McCoy, who was winning the race for the first time, said: "I wanted to make the running and he was okay for a bit, but then he was off the bridle because we went too quick. He has a tendency to jump left and that was making him get into the bottom of a few because he was getting rushed, but I still thought at the Pond fence if I get to the bottom of this lad he'd keep going.

"Every jockey that goes out there is determined to win a race like that, you need a willing horse that is going to get you in that position but when you get on a lazy horse like that you have to find a happy medium." Briery Fox will go down as a gallant loser though connections were cursing McCoy. "I used to quite like that fellow McCoy," said trainer Henry Daly. "I thought coming to the last that we'd got the race won, but as soon as they jumped the last I saw McCoy and thought 'bollocks!'"

Result Bet365 Gold Cup Chase 1 Hennessy .................................................. 13- 2 2 Briery Fox ................................................ 11- 1 3 Lacdoudal .................................................. 8- 1 Owner Malcolm Denmark Trainer Carl Llewellyn Jockey Tony McCoy Groom John Cullen Breeder M Brophy Distances nk, 1 1 2 l

CAPTION(S):

Hennessy and Tony McCoy follow Church Island and Denis O'Regan before a dramatic win in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown yesterday (top), while (inset) McCoy, owner Malcolm Denmark and trainer Carl Llewellyn celebrate in the winner's enclosure; (above) Twilight Star and Darryll Holland land the Flat v jump jockeys' handicap; (left) Tartan Bearer (near side) gets the better of Pipedreamer in the Gordon Richards Stakes
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2009
Words:648
Previous Article:Coral unhappy at Turner's PR U-turn.
Next Article:Champ rounds off his season in typically magical style; Alastair Down is lost in admiration - once again - for the incomparable jockey.


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