Cheltenham Festival Horse Racing Grand National By Sir Anthony McCoy

Sir Anthony Discusses Whips With Jamie Dornan

I’m looking forward to British Champions Day on Saturday and Order Of St George can get favourite backers off to a good start in the Long Distance Cup. He’s better than the others. He was disappointing in the Irish St Leger, but he won the Ascot Gold Cup, finished third in the Arc and I couldn’t back anything else.

The British Champions Sprint is wide open. Quiet Reflection won at Royal Ascot but I’d just favour Limato, who won the Prix de la Foret last time, as he’s a very straightforward horse.

Zhukova did well to beat US Army Ranger last time, but I think Seventh Heaven will win the Fillies & Mares race. I saw her at Ballydoyle three weeks ago and she is a proper mare with plenty of size and she’s improving all the time. She would be at the top of my list of horses to back on Champions Day.

In the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Ribchester performed really well last time, while Minding was bit disappointing. If you’d asked me at the end of June I would have said Minding was unbeatable and would beat the colts. I don’t know if she’s got the same spark as earlier in the year. I think it’s between the pair.

The British Champion Stakes should be between Almanzor and Found. I think Found is a much better filly coming off a strong pace, so it will depend on pacemakers. I think you might see a better US Army Ranger coming off a strong pace too, so he could have an each-way shout. The Irish Champion Stakes was the best race run all year in Europe so Almanzor must have a huge chance, but I tipped Found for the Arc and I will stick with her for this.

Sir Anthony McCoy’s Best Bet For Champions Day – Seventh Heaven

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Willie Mullins and Michael O’Leary have split. Willie put up the training fees and Michael didn’t like it, but it’s definitely a clash of personalities. Neither of them will be dictated to and in some ways that’s why they are successful. For most people losing 60 horses would be their whole yard gone, but Willie will still dominate and I don’t think he will have lost any sleep over it.

Sir Anthony McCoy’s Horses To Follow For The Jump Season:
More Of That – I still think he’s a good horse. He wasn’t right at Cheltenham, but he’s come back and looks a picture.
Yanworth – He ran some great races last year and it’s fair to say we’ve got high expectations for this season
Protek Des Flos – he loves testing ground and there could be plenty more to come from him this year as he heads novice chasing
Buveur D’Air – he won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at Aintree and he’s got the potential to win more top level races
Moon Racer – he was an excellent bumper horse and he has already taken the scalp of Ballyandy on his first run over hurdles
Westend Story – Mick Fitzgerald is a good judge and he tells me Westend Story will be winning races this season

I recently played in the Alfred Dunhill pro-am golf championship. There was no sign of Chanelle for three days, but when I was playing with Jamie Dornan she rocked up. I wonder why? He’s an okay golfer but I don’t think she was there to see him swing his club. I haven’t seen Fifty Shades Of Grey or read the book, but he told me he was making a second and third film. I thought it sounded a bit boring that the same girl was in all of them! I guess we both have something in common; we’re both used to using whips. I’ve definitely done a bit more riding than him. Doesn’t really count on four legs though. I’m sure I have used a whip a bit more than him, I’m more experienced. He was looking for some tips on how to use it and get them to respond!

I played with Brian O’Driscoll and Gerry McManus as well and I got to play with Graeme McDowell, who believe it or not, listens to William Hill Radio! His caddy was listening to it on the 15th tee the other day. The biggest problem is that they listen to the tips and they were giving out to me for putting up Fair Eva a couple of weeks ago at odds of 4/9 and she got beat! So I have to be careful what I put up for G-Mac and his caddy Ken, they are avid followers! I was pretty happy I made the cut as only 20 amateurs made it through, but I’ll be hoping to win it next year.

All credit to Jim Crowley winning the Jockeys’ Championship and to his agent Tony Hind. You need an agent who wants to win as much as you. I had that with Dave Roberts. I admire Jim. He had an ambition, gave it everything and he has got the rewards. It disappointed me in the middle of the season when various jockeys ruled themselves out of the championship. How can it be a negative to want to ride more winners than anyone else?! It should be everyone’s ambition. There’s nothing like winning. Jim certainly has a good chance again next year.

Jim Crowley is 11-10 joint-favourite with Silvestre De Sousa for next year’s Jockeys’ Championship

Speaking of jockeys, Graham Lee has been very brave. I’ve been aware of depression for a long time for various reasons. Graham has had a tough time, but it’s good he has found the best help and advice. Not eating is a depressant on its own for any man. It would get any person down. It’s not a 9 to 5 job. You have highs and lows all of the time. The very best sports people are very level-headed. If you keep things in perspective, then there’s less chance of suffering from the lows. I have had loads of dark times, but everyone probably has them. It’s how you deal with them.

I think there are many sportspeople during and after their careers that can suffer from problems like depression. When you retire you have no high to look forward to. You perform on a stage in front of loads of people and then suddenly nobody cares about you. A footballer scores a goal and gets a buzz, but then what happens when he retires? He gets bored. A lot of them suffer from alcoholism or addiction because they want to regain that buzz. It’s important that people receive the right support, help and treatment.

The good thing for jockeys is there’s a helpline to support them and it’s about an individual being brave enough to ring it. The problem is it’s a tough sport and you don’t want to show weakness. Is it weakness? This is a discussion I had with Graham, should he talk about it? I said yes, it might help other people. You’re always afraid of showing weakness, but the bravest thing is to ask for help.