Cheltenham Festival: AP McCoy's thoughts with JT McNamara after victory on At Fishers Cross
AP McCoy’s first thoughts were for close friend JT McNamara, seriously injured in a fall on Thursday, after he rode his first winner at this year’s Festival.
The 17-time champion jockey broke his duck with an easy victory under At Fishers Cross (11-8 favourite), trained by Rebecca Curtis, in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Sam Twiston-Davies looked to be going well as he went to the front aboard African Gold in the home straight, but he had answer to the finishing surge of At Fishers Cross, who won by four and a half lengths.
But McCoy and winning owner JP McManus found it hard to celebrate with McNamara undergoing surgery in Frenchay Hospital.
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McCoy said: “It’s very difficult to enjoy today after what happened to John Thomas yesterday. He’s a close friend of us all and he’s ridden for JP and he’s like a family member. It’s very sad.”
Similarly, McManus’ main concern is that McNamara recovers from have what described as “serious injuries” following his fall from the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Galaxy Rock on Thursday.
“It doesn’t seem right to celebrate and our friend is in all our thoughts,” he said. “We just hope and pray that he gets better.”
Ironically, McNamara rode Teaforthree to victory for Curtis at last year’s Festival.
At Fishers Cross, who beat African Gold’s stablemate The New One in similar manner last time out, could now be aimed at next year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Curtis said: “He’s a very tough horse and he keeps battling all the way up that hill. He’s an absolute star.”
Twiston-Davies was pleased with how well African Gold, winner of his previous four races, had acquitted himself against top-level opponents and believes he remains a horse with a big future.
“We hoped the ground would stay as it was, but the ground caught us out,” said the Guiting Power trainer. “We put it up to them but on that ground it wasn’t our day.”