Sir Anthony McCoy

Sir Anthony McCoy Sir Anthony Peter ‘A.P.’ McCoy retired from race riding in April, 2015, having ridden 4,348 winners in Britain and Ireland and won the British National Hunt Jockeys’ Championship 20 years running. At the so-called ‘Olympics of horse racing’, the Cheltenham Festival, McCoy rode 31 winners, making him the third most successful jockey in the history of the March showpiece meeting, behind Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty.

 

His first Festival winner, Kibreet in the Grand Annual Chase in 1996, was trained by Philip Hobbs, but most of his early winners – including Make A Stand, winner of the Champion Hurdle in 1997 – were trained by Martin Pipe. Indeed, in 1997, McCoy also rode Or Royal to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Mr. Mulligan, trained by Noel Chance, to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and become leading jockey at the Festival for the first time, with three winners.

 

In 1998, McCoy won the Leading Jockey Award, again, with five winners. He won the Arkle Challenge Trophy again, on Champleve, the Pertemps Final on Unsinkable Boxer, the Cathcart Challenge Cup on Cyfor Malta and the County Hurdle on Blowing Wind, all trained by Pipe, and the Grand Annual Chase on Edredon Bleu, trained by Henrietta Knight. Thereafter, McCoy rode at least one Cheltenham Festival winner in every year bar two, 2001 and 2005, of his career, finally signing off with Uxizandre, owned by J.P. McManus and trained by Alan King, in the Ryanair Chase in 2015.

 

In terms of the main ‘championship’ races, McCoy won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, on Mr. Mulligan and Synchronised, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, in 2012, the Champion Hurdle three times, on Make A Stand, Brave Inca, trained by Colm Murphy, in 2006 and Binocular, trained by Nicky Henderson, in 2010. Perhaps surprisingly, McCoy never won the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Rooster Booster

Rooster Booster Owned by Terry Warner, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson, was a popular grey, who won the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2002, but is probably best remembered for his impressive, 11-length victory in the Champion Hurdle in 2003.

Originally in the charge of Dorset permit holder Richard Mitchell, Rooster Booster won a maiden hurdle at Taunton on his third start over obstacles in January, 2000. He was subsequently sold to Terry Warner for £60,000 and transferred to Philip Hobbs but, despite a series of valiant placed efforts – including in top handicaps, such as the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury and the Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown – he failed to add to his winning tally on his first 14 starts for his new trainer.

Despite being an eight-year-old with just a single win to his name, and making his first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival, Rooster Booster was sent off 8/1 third favourite for the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle in 2002. Held up early, he made good headway with half a mile to run and, having taken a slight lead at the final flight, was ridden out to beat The Gatherer by 1¼ lengths.

Rooster Booster was subsequently beaten, but far from disgraced, when fourth of 14, beaten 4½ lengths, behind Coral Cup winner Ilnamar in the Martell Aintree Hurdle on his final start of the season. However, over the winter Rooster Booster underwent what can only be described as an ‘epiphany’ because, as a nine-year-old, he won his first four starts of the 2002/03 season, including the Grade Two Victor Chandler Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Consequently, on March 3, 2000, Rooster Booster lined up as 9/2 second favourite – in a field that included reigning champion Hors La Loi III, and the likes of Rhinestone Cowboy and Intersky Falcon – but market confidence was not misplaced. In fact, far from it; he quickened clear approaching the last and sauntered up the run-in, easily brushing aside his nearest pursuer, Westender, to record the defining performance of his career.