There is only one question on everybody’s lips ahead of this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National, can AP McCoy do it again?
In what will be McCoy’s last ride over the famous Aintree fences ahead his impending retirement, the one-time Grand National winner will be hoping to double that tally on Saturday afternoon with the backing of the nation, who will watch with anticipation.
Starting as favourite
Riding onboard Shutthefrontdoor, the Jonjo O’Neill trained horse has been installed as the 7-1 favourite, with the bookies expected to lose tens of million of pounds should McCoy record a memorable final win in the national. Not since Red Rum started as a 7-2 favourite in the 1975 Grand National has a horse ever been priced so short, thus showing the extent to which AP is being backed.
Rather ominously though, over the last twenty years the pre-race favourite has only gone on to win on 5 of those occasions, however quite fortouitously the most recent of those was indeed AP McCoy onboard Don’t Push It in 2010, when rode his maiden national winner after 15 previous attempts.
Emotions will be high
Having already encountered an outpouring of emotion from racegoers during his final appearance at the Cheltenham festival last month, AP is set to receive more of the same from the Aintree crowd this weekend, who in the build up to this years event have projected a giant image of the great man onto the Liver building.
Speaking to the BBC ahead of this year’s national meet McCoy conceded, “there’s no doubt it’ll be emotional,” before adding, “being my last I should think it’s going to be very emotional”.
A tense win in Thursday’s Aintree hurdle set the emotions into momentum as his 3-1 mount Jezki, snatched victory at the final hurdle following a heavy fall from Ruby Walsh onboard the much fancied Arctic Fire.
Could it be his last race?
Since declaring his retirement earlier this year, every race he has ridden in has been met with increased attention, as the countdown to McCoy’s departure from national hunt racing draws ever closer come the end of the season in late April. However, that countdown may be made significantly shorter depending on the outcome of Saturday’s big race.
With the confirmation that should he win the Grand National with Shutthefrontdoor, he will enter into immediate retirement, further emphasis has been placed onto this year’s race in what would promise to be one of sports all time bitter-sweet moments.
Whilst not even the most staunch racing fan would begrudge McCoy one more win in the national, the prospect of never being able to witness the 20-time champion joceky in his famous green and yellow stripes will simply be too much to bear for some.
Whatever the result of the Grand National, come Saturday evening Aintree will bid an emotional farewell to a racing legend, yet whether that will be as a two-time national winner remains to be seen.
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