Talking Horses: debating 'Ride of the season' with Sir Anthony McCoy

Chris Cook
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Adrian Heskin became the first jockey to receive a ‘ride of the season’ award named after Sir Anthony McCoy.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Hugh Routledge/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Adrian Heskin became the first jockey to receive a ‘ride of the season’ award named after Sir Anthony McCoy. Photograph: Hugh Routledge/REX/Shutterstock

Timeform have their say over Kempton

Timeform have waded into the debate over Kempton’s future, saying it is “astonishing” that the Jockey Club could contemplate building on the site and moving the King George VI Chase to Sandown. You can read the full story here.

Those views are expressed by Timeform in the latest edition of ‘Chasers & Hurdlers’, to be published on Saturday 7 October and available from and Amazon.

Today’s best bet, by Chris Cook

In case you missed it, the first ever McCoys were handed out at Cheltenham on Friday at a new awards night for jump racing in the south-west. It’s a Jockey Club-inspired venture, focusing on the twig-hopping action at Wincanton, Exeter, Warwick and, of course, Cheltenham itself.

Many gongs were handed out to the entirely deserving likes of One For Arthur, Sizing John, Many Clouds, Noel Fehily and others. But it seemed to me that the chief joy of the event came from the gathering of hundreds of people who can’t wait for real racing to resume in just a few weeks’ time.

I enjoyed being on the judge’s panel, though it meant entering a discussion with Sir Anthony McCoy himself about what was the best ride given a horse at those four Jockey Club tracks last season. On the list of Most Impertinent Things I Have Ever Done, this must go straight in at number one.

Guided by the man after whom the awards were named, we eventually lighted on Adrian Heskin’s effort on Sir Valentino in the Haldon Gold Cup last November, which you can see here. It was Heskin’s first ride on the horse and he managed to conjure a narrow victory aboard the 10-1 shot over Garde La Victoire with Richard Johnson up.

‘Ride of the season’ is a fun conversation to have and I’d like to hear from you on the subject, now and over the next six months. Did we pick the right ride for last season? Also, if you see an especially good ride at Cheltenham, Wincanton, Warwick or Exeter this winter, come on here and let me know about it and I’ll make sure the footage gets put before the relevant authorities for the next round of McCoys, whether or not I end up on the panel again.

There’s a couple of interesting jumps cards today but it’s still early enough in the season for me to feel that the all-weather racing might be a more attractive betting proposition. Roundabout Magic (3.30) appeals for his return to Lingfield, where he won twice on the bounce in the spring, and he is now back to being just 1lb higher than for the most recent of those.

He should not be judged harshly for a summer of defeat on turf, given that his career record is 0/8 on that surface. Simon Dow’s runner is available at 4-1.

Easy Code (4.35) is worth a look at 7-4, having shown distinct improvement for the step up to a mile last week, when he scored readily over this course and distance. He comes from the William Haggas yard that continues among the winners and his main rival appears to be Evening Hill, whose best form has been the other way round at Kempton.

Sissinghurst (4.10) attracts me at Huntingdon. Formerly trained by Nick Gifford, he is about to have his first run for Fergal O’Brien with a tongue tie on for the first time and it appears the market expects an improved showing, given that he opened at 6-1 and is now 9-2.

Sissinghurst is a brother to Templehills who won four times last season for O’Brien’s neighbour Nigel Twiston-Davies and is now rated 40lb higher than Sissinghurst. The latter has been dropped 11lb from his opening handicap mark after just two defeats and it would be no surprise at all if O’Brien were able to send him back up the ratings this autumn.

Tips for all Thursday races

Geophony 2.00 Mille Nautique 2.35 Hatcher 3.05 Air Squadron 3.40 Miss Spent 4.10 Sissinghurst (nb) 4.45 Shrubland 5.15 Gibeno

Bajan Gold 2.25 Purser 2.55 Imphal 3.30 Roundabout Magic 4.00 Yogiyogiyogi 4.35 Easy Code 5.05 Himalayan Queen 5.35 Monteamiata

Herewego Herewego 2.45 Jabulani 3.20 Sceau Royal 3.50 Russian Service 4.25 Beggars Cross 4.55 Undefined Beauty

Hope And Glory 6.15 West Palm Beach 6.45 Heather Lark 7.15 Tamayef 7.45 Broughtons Knight 8.15 Arcadian Sea (nap) 8.45 Feint 9.15 Frangarry

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