Racing: McCoy the milestone machine

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The Independent Online
WHEN he weighed in on his 200th winner of the season at Kempton on Saturday, Tony McCoy's housing was the new glass tank they have erected at Sunbury to amuse the observers. It is a scenario we may have to get used to because if the Irishman continues at this present rate he may end up in a similar edifice at the British Museum.

We have not seen the like of Anthony Peter McCoy before. When Fataliste succeeded at Kempton he became only the second man to breach the 200 mark. Peter Scudamore is the sole figure to have done it before and when he did so in 1989 it was at the end of April.

There seems almost negligible doubt that McCoy will beat Scu's overall record of 221 winners - set that campaign - and he is just 10-1 with William Hill to ride 300 winners this season. He needs eight winners a week until close of play to achieve that mountainous total, but when your main Sherpa is Martin Pipe the peak does not look so daunting.

McCoy is still only 23, but he is not a 23-year-old who wastes his time being silly in Indian restaurants like some people of that age. He is, like most of his mounts, hard driven, and if you needed proof of that it came in his celebration as Fataliste crossed the line. There wasn't one.

It is perhaps McCoy's greatest strength, and one that keeps him away from the leeches that crawl after celebrities, that the most important winner to him is not the last one. It is the next. He never looks back in rapture.

The enormity of the double century on Saturday first struck a beaten rival in Richard Dunwoody. He shook McCoy by the hand and the champion made some sort of acknowledgement with a smile. While further palms were proffered, as if it was a Royal walkabout, our hero remained somewhat detached. A television interview told us little more than he was concentrating on his ride in the next.

This attitude has led to a situation where McCoy has already secured a third consecutive jockeys' championship. His nearest rivals have yet to reach 90 winners, and one of those again crashed out of the saddle at Kempton.

McCoy was at Fairyhouse yesterday, guiding the 1-4 favourite Boss Doyle to victory in a novices' handicap chase.

Adrian Maguire did nothing but put purple on his body when thumped to the floor by Amtrak Express in the Racing Post Chase, which will be a relief to many more than just himself. The Irishman has missed the last three Festivals and, if he injures himself pre-Cheltenham again, he will know the fates have decided he should put away his whip full time and work instead behind a glass partition giving out money, or go on the road with a case full of brushes. Maguire will indeed be back travelling soon, though it is likely to be following his chosen trade at Leicester tomorrow.

One who seems more certainly out of the doldrums is I'm Supposin, who was beginning to be called nasty names before he won the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last week. One firm offered 80-1 for him to win both that race and the Champion Hurdle, which would have been rather nice to take as Richard Rowe's runner was cut to 5-1 second favourite behind Istabraq for hurdling's crown by William Hill yesterday.

The form was hardly rubbished on Saturday either when Master Beveled, the wide- margin runner-up in Somerset, ran Red Blazer close at Haydock. Rowe said yesterday: "I was delighted and it was a good performance to come out just two days later. I know Terry Biddlecombe rates Red Blazer highly and the pair have drawn clear. It looks good form.

"I just hope the ground stays good at Cheltenham and we get luck in running. I'm Supposin is absolutely fine this morning. I rode him myself yesterday and he was very, very well. You have to respect Istabraq as he has not been beaten too often, but he has been winning for a lot of the season and you don't know how long they can hold their peak. I'm Supposin has come right at just the right time and only needs to hold his peak for three weeks."

CHAMPION HURDLE (Cheltenham, 17 March): William Hill: 3-1 Istabraq, 5- 1 I'm Supposin, 11-2 Dato Star, 7-1 Shadow Leader, 14-1 Grimes, 20-1 Collier Bay, French Holly, Kerawi, Pridwell, Relkeel, Sanmartino, 25-1 Commanche Court, Marello, Zaralaska.

Tony McCoy factfile

Born: 4 May 1974

First winner: Legal Steps at Thurles on 26 March 1992

First winner in Britain: Chickabiddy at Exeter on 7 September 1994

Champion conditional jockey: 1994-95 with 74 winners - a record by a conditional.

Champion jockey: 1995-96, 1996-97.

100th winner of 1996-97: Class of Ninetytwo at Warwick on 21 November, beating Peter Scudamore's record by 30 days.

100th winner of 1997-98: Sam Rockett at Newton Abbot on 5 November, beating his own record by 16 days.

150th winner of 1997-98: Deano's Beeno at Bangor-on-Dee on 17 December, beating Peter Scudamore's record by 51 days.

200th winner of 1997-98: Fataliste at Kempton on 28 February, beating Peter Sudamore's record by 58 days.

Champion Hurdle winner: Make A Stand 1997.

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner: Mr Mulligan 1997.

Five-timers: Uttoxeter 26 May 1997; Newton Abbot 4 August 1997.