There’s just one question on everybody’s lips heading into the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National: can AP McCoy clinch the perfect ending to horse racing’s most illustrious career.
The 19-time Champion Jockey, who announced his pending retirement after riding his 200th winner of the season back in February, enters his 20th Grand National on seven-year-old gelding Shutthefrontdoor. McCoy has already declared that, should he win Saturday’s massive event, he will retire immediately.
Judging by the bookmakers odds, as well as public perceptions, this could be the last time we ever see the world’s greatest ever jockey inside the winner’s enclosure.
The AP effect means that his chosen ride would have always been considered amongst the pre-race favourites. However, Shutthefrontdoor’s credentials certainly stand out as a potential winner. The 2014 Irish Grand National winner has won nine of its 14 previous races and could be destined for a place in history by helping McCoy to his second career victory in the infamous steeplechase.
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McCoy’s only previous winner, in 19 attempts, came in 2010 on Don’t Push It – another horse from the owner/trainer partnership of J.P McManus and Jonjo O’Neill. How fitting it would be should Shutthefrontdoor clear the gruelling 30 jumps to give AP the perfect send off.
Shutthefrontdoor to complete the race is 4/7 with Bet365
The 40-year-old Northern Irishman has captivated horse racing fans for over two decades, breaking a series of records along the way. Last weekend’s Ryanair Gold Cup triumph at Fairyhouse served as the perfect preparation for the Aintree meeting, which starts on Thursday, and the majority of horse racing fans will be willing him to bring the curtain down in what would be euphoric circumstances – at least from a sporting perspective, even if their bets are placed elsewhere.
Not that the favourite will be short of support from punters, who will be backing the favourite in their thousands. In truth, if you’re looking to place a wager on AP’s ride, you’re best shout is to get on early as there is a strong feeling that the 7/1 price will shorten before Saturday’s 4:15 start.
Whatever happens on Saturday afternoon, AP McCoy will be remembered as an all-time great. He already boasts the most career wins, surpassing the 4,000 mark back in 2013, as well as the most race winners in a single season after riding 289 during the 2001/02 season.
Additionally, he boasts 19 successive Champion Jockey awards as well as 20 Lester awards, which is also another record, not to mention an MBE and OBE for his services to the sport. Add the 2010 Sports Personality of the Year trophy to the collection and you get a pretty clear picture that AP McCoy is a sporting legend.
However, by his own admission, riding Shutthefrontdoor to victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase would be something else. After providing racing fans with so many memories over the past two decades, nobody could begrudge him this swansong.
McCoy is a down-to-earth character, though, and knows he faces huge competition from an extremely talented field. It certainly won’t be easy, but maybe some things are written in the stars. Millions of horse racing fanatics, and punters, will be hoping that this will be the case at Aintree.
Shutthefrontdoor is 7/1 with William Hill