Tony McCoy booked for only two rides on his final day at Sandown
Set to make his last appearance in the saddle on the aptly named Box Office
Tony McCoy’s last race will be on Box Office on his final day of action at Sandown on Saturday. Photo: David Davies/PA
Tony McCoy has been booked for only two rides on his final day of action at Sandown on Saturday and appears set to make his last appearance in the saddle on the aptly named Box Office. His other mount is Mr Mole in the AP McCoy Celebration Chase, which has been named after him to mark the occasion.
Both horses are owned by JP McManus, who has been McCoy’s principal employer for the past decade and to whom the jockey has often expressed strong loyalty. It appears McCoy had no desire to ride for anyone else on his final day, as he is believed to have been offered a ride in the day’s major handicap, the Bet365 Gold Cup, but turned it down. McManus has no runners in that race.
The trainer Jonjo O’Neill tweeted early on Friday: “We have just declared Box Office for @Sandownpark tomorrow. This will be AP’s last ride for JP and myself. #ThanksAP.”
That appears to leave little room for doubt that the horse will be McCoy’s final ride, though there had been doubts on Friday about whether Box Office would run. The surface at Sandown has been drying all week, with little rain in prospect, and he is thought to need some give in the ground.
A final victory for McCoy will be no straightforward matter. Box Office is expected to face 19 rivals for a highly competitive handicap hurdle, while Mr Mole takes on several quality opponents including Sprinter Sacre. The bookmakers rate Mr Mole as favourite, however, at 7-2.
Channel 4 viewers will be able to see McCoy’s final ride thanks to a reshuffling of both Sandown’s running order and the broadcaster’s schedule. Box Office’s race has been brought forward by an hour to 4.25pm, while Channel 4 Racing has extended its coverage to 4.40pm.
Racegoers may be surprised McCoy will not be busier on the final day of his career but the jockey has been very choosy about his mounts over the past fortnight. Since Grand National day on April 11th, he has had only nine mounts at Cheltenham and Ayr, the most recent of those being six days ago.
Tickets for Sandown’s Saturday card sold out on Thursday. It is the track’s first sellout crowd since July 2005.