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Fakir D’Oudairies has McCoy smiling at Ascot

Sir Anthony McCoy admits he misses the big days, the good horses.

Still just a few seasons removed from the saddle, the 20-times champion used to don JP McManus’ famous green and gold hoop silks, now he represents the powerful owner as a spokesman on the big occasions like Betfair Ascot Chase day.

A man renowned for his dry wit, he was even caught cracking a smile when lifting the glass trophy that gallant Fakir D’Oudairies had landed in the Grade One feature on deep ground on Saturday.

“Don’t tell anyone!” quipped McCoy when told he’d smiled.

McCoy is becoming well versed in the art of saying something, but telling nothing. He smiles at that suggestion, too.

He had won this race “a few times – I can’t remember what on”.

“I do remember I won it on Tresor De Mai and he was one I didn’t think would ever win a Grade One,” added McCoy in more typical fashion.

Fakir D’Oudairies had him upbeat, however. The tempo of the two-mile-and five-furlong event was more than adequate for the conditions and Mark Walsh gave the Joseph O’Brien-trained seven-year-old a peach of a ride.

Though he got in close and had his momentum slightly slowed at the penultimate fence, he picked up and found a determination that saw him overhaul the game Two For Gold and gain a third top-level success.

Fakir D’Oudairies has had the misfortune to have come up against crack chaser Allaho and has been beaten by him in their last three clashes. They could lock horns again in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, although McCoy hinted that Aintree, where he won the Melling Chase last April, might be the plan.

“It was easier for him today. He is a good horse. He’ll go somewhere where he can win again,” said McCoy.

“It was nice for him to win. He is a good, tough horse. He is a credit and is a consistent horse and just keeps finding.

Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy
Tony McCoy (centre-left) is all smiles after lifting the Betfair Ascot Chase trophy (Simon Marper/PA)

“It looked a fairly run race and it is tiring ground and they are all entitled to make mistakes, aren’t they? He is a good, solid horse.

“You’d miss riding a horse like that, but I saw a few earlier in the day that I wouldn’t have missed riding!”

Fakir D’Oudairies is, like McCoy, a serious individual. An uncomplicated, ruthless grinder not known for an added gear, he is in equal parts dependable and persistent, a horse with a tattooed heart on his sleeve, giving his all.

“He is a consistent horse at a high level,” added McCoy. “It is hard when you run into good horses all the time like Allaho, and you are going to get beaten once in a while.”

Walsh took a page from the McCoy playbook. He was not going to be beaten, not today. The rider had suffered a family bereavement, and did well to just about keep his emotions in check after landing another Grade One.

Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success
Mark Walsh is interviewed after his Ascot success (Simon Marper/PA)

“Unfortunately I lost my uncle. He was a great racing fan and a great man, so I want to dedicate this race to him,” said Walsh.

“I thought I was going to win going to the second last, but he got underneath it and the horse in front got two lengths on him, but he put himself down very well and battled all the way to the line.

“The second horse didn’t stop and gave me a good battle all the way to the line, but luckily we came out on top.

“Joseph does a brilliant job with him at home, but he loves his racing and he is a little warrior and always battles like that. He is a great little horse to be associated with.”

The brilliance of these top-flight jockeys is an inane ability to pre-empt and change the plan mid-race. Walsh had to do exactly that.

Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold
Fakir D’Oudairies (right) edged out Two For Gold (Simon Marper/PA)

He explained: “I didn’t travel great coming up Swinley Bottom, the first two fences and coming up by the stands, I pulled him out to give him a bit of room and going down the hill, he started jumping a lot better and he got into position then.

“I was a lot happier going into Swinley Bottom the second time and just pulling him out and giving him a bit of room seemed to work.

“Once he starts putting in a few leaps like that, he starts enjoying it again.”

It was a big day in every respect for Walsh, a fact he acknowledged.

“Every winner is important – especially these Grade Ones – so I am delighted, “ he added.

This may have been a ho-hum race for McCoy among a glittering career but there is no question Fakir D’Oudairies is as good, if not better, than some of the winners of the race he had ridden.

“No question, he is tough and consistent,” said McCoy. “In fairness to him, his form figures are pretty good. He is more of a relentless galloper. He is a grand horse – you wouldn’t mind a few more like him. Or a lot like him!”

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