The ‘Champ’ – AP McCoy, proved that his extraordinary talent in the saddle, which has kept him at the top of the jump jockeys championship for the past 20 consecutive years, still remains – as he led three former weighing room colleagues to victory in the JCB Champions Challenge at the St. James’s Place Wealth Management Barbury International Horse Trials today. Joining McCoy was Sam Twiston-Davies, 22, one of the brightest of the new generation of young jump jockeys; Richard Johnson, who is (after McCoy), the second-most successful jockey in jumps history, with over 2000 winners. The quartet was completed by one of racing’s leading players Wayne Hutchinson, stable jockey to Barbury trainer Alan King.
Run in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, McCoy was returning to the saddle for the first time in public since retiring, riding against a quartet of some of the biggest names in eventing, led by Andrew Nicholson, who has won the Barbury International three star three times in a row with his lovely grey Avebury. Andrew’s team mates were fellow New Zealander and rider of the 20th century Sir Mark Todd and two of Britain’s finest rider’s – Harry Meade, who finished third at last year’s Badminton Horse Trials and multiple winning Olympic medallist Tina Cook. The winning Portman (juniors) and Bicester with Whaddon (seniors) teams from the Inter Hunt Scurry also took part.
In the preliminary round, McCoy’s team actually trailed in behind the Bicester with Whaddon, who stole a late win on their final leg, when the mount of Richard Johnson proved a little less than willing over the first two obstacles. But amidst the “We miss you AP” that could be heard being cheered from the Barbury crowds, a jump off between the jockeys and the eventers was called for.
AP set a blistering start to take the lead over Andrew Nicholson and the final leg provided a nail biting finish between Johnson and Meade. They both crossed each other’s tracks in the water obstacle and following a ‘stewards enquiry’, the jump jockeys were crowned the winning team of the second battle of Barbury.
Following the race AP said: “Thank you to the Eventers and Hunts for taking part as its in aid of the IJF, which is a really important organisation for horseracing and beyond. It felt great to be back in the saddle and today was something a bit different, and at least we won!”.