Racing: McCoy makes his mark in the record books - again

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The Independent Online

There are fewer milestones on the M4 than on the golden highway that is A P McCoy's career and yesterday at Wincanton the peerless jockey burst past yet another with his 2,000th winner.

There are fewer milestones on the M4 than on the golden highway that is A P McCoy's career and yesterday at Wincanton the peerless jockey burst past yet another with his 2,000th winner.

Magical Bailiwick, an eight-year-old handicap chaser, was the lucky beast who earned himself a hoofnote in the record books as McCoy completed another first that the Somerset crowd had come out in force to witness. How about "2000AP - a race odyssey", as the film title for yesterday's heroics?

Best, though, that McCoy does not play himself. As ever the man was undramatic after putting even more daylight between himself and the other legends of the jockey room. "I'm pleased to get 2,000," the 29-year-old said. "I knew it was getting close, but didn't know how close until I read the newspapers."

In fact, he was only two away, and when he landed the opener aboard Noel Chance's 7-2 shot, Corporate Player, it seemed Wincanton's champagne would not have long enough to chill. But then came the wait - all three agonising races of it - until Magical Bailiwick obliged.

Aptly it came on a Martin Pipe charge and even apter still was that McCoy's mode of transport into history was all heart and little engine. Five fences out, Jason Maguire was sat motionless on the 13-year-old Tremallt while McCoy was upsides asking his 3-1 hope for everything he had. Fast forward two fences and Maguire was the one flapping as Magical Bailiwick finally realised his rider would not take "no" for an answer.

By the finish, the distance was three lengths, although it could have been 20 as all eyes were on McCoy and winner number 2,000. Except the eight-time champion jockey's, of course. His were already on the next winner. "I'd like to ride another 2,000," he was quick to say. "The first 2,000 is history, it's past, gone. It'll be just the same when I get on the next horse."

And McCoy was as good as his word, winning the next on Pipe's Tucacas (4-5) and then, shamlessly, the one after that on John Spearing's Hopbine (8-1) to complete a four-timer. Just the 1,998 to go then.

At Kempton, meanwhile, a young jockey tipped by many to become another fixture in the winner's enclosure was enjoying his biggest success. Sam Thomas has been proving since he turned professional that he is a conditional jockey in name and allowance only and hammered home the point when taking the day's feature race, the £50,000 Lanzarote Hurdle, on Venetia Williams's Limerick Boy.

If the 19-year-old's 164-1 double here raised a few eyebrows yesterday, they almost disappeared off the forehead when it dawned on everybody that it was Ruby Walsh - aboard the 7-2 favourite Perouse - who Thomas was getting the better of in a driving finish. A neck was all that separated the 10-1 shot from his rival at the line, but that was enough for many to believe that here is a star in the making. "He's pretty good isn't he?" said Williams about the Welshman, who is the son of an Abergavenny teacher. "And his 5lb claim is a precious gift."

This gift will need to be precious indeed, if Limerick Boy is to prevail in his next assignment, the Tote Gold Trophy, in which the champion hurdler, Rooster Booster, is due to appear.

It was also a good day for Jim Culloty, who enjoyed a 39-1 treble, but not for Nicky Henderson, who experienced a rare Saturday of woe. Most worrying was the sight of his Arkle hope, Carriocola, finising lame when second to Palua in the novices' two-miler. But this canny trainer would be the first to admit that racing is not a sport of constants. Except for AP McCoy, of course.

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