Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grand Occasion but McCoy Jinx Is Hard to Take

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Grand Occasion but McCoy Jinx Is Hard to Take

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM CUNNINGHAM

LOOK back on any great sporting event and it's usually possible to identify one pivotal moment. In Saturday's Grand National it came as the field thundered down to Becher's Brook for the second time.

And what happened within the space of a couple of seconds there had massive consequences for two outstanding riders and millions of punters who had placed their faith in them.

After nine National defeats, AP McCoy must have thought he had finally had found a partner with a hunger for Aintree glory to match his own as the freewheeling Clan Royal devoured the daunting spruce fences in spectacular fashion.

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh made a subtle move aboard Hedgehunter which was barely mentioned in the post-race analysis but arguably made the difference between defeat and victory.

Anxious not to let Hedgehunter take the sort of hold which had left him with precious little left to offer in the home straight 12 month earlier, Walsh took such a fierce grip on the gelding's head that he briefly looked in danger of making an embarrassing exit through the side door.

The extra second that instinctive decision bought him ensured that Hedgehunter had enough room to avoid the mayhem caused when two loose horses formed an equine shield to carry Clan Royal and McCoy out of the race.

Walsh admitted that he came within an ace of suffering the same fate as his great rival as he reflected on his passage through a race which was watched by an estimated 600m people worldwide.

"That incident at Becher's frightened the heart out of me," he said.

"AP was desperately unlucky, but that's the National. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're not on the right horse you might as well be in the weighing room. Fortunately, I had the right horse and it's a magical feeling. …

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