It felt like the old days this week as I returned to my career of TV producing and filming. With the Grand National this weekend and AP McCoy (20 x Champion National Hunt Jockey) announcing that this will be his very last National before he retires at the end of this season, Racing Post TV booked me to shoot a fire-side chat between John Francome, Alastair Down and Brought Scott.
The three sage racing experts, discussed McCoy’s inimitable achievement; his ‘steel’; his extraordinary pain threshold; his constant pursuit of winners whether at Aintree or Folkestone and whether he was riding with a broken collar bone or not (!); his warmth and bright personality. It was a fascinating and fun shoot with great anecdotes.
As for The Grand National, McCoy has said he will retire immediately this Saturday, if he wins the race with 7-1 favourite: ‘Shutthefrontdoor’. He’s only won it once before in 2010 with ‘Don’t Push It’. (The 2015 National will be his record-breaking 20th Grand National!) Such is the support for McCoy that bookmakers are predicting as many as one in three of the £150m worth of bets placed on the Grand National will be supporting Shutthefrontdoor.
I’m backing last year’s second: 9-1 shot Balthazar King, (a horse I enjoyed filming on Philip Hobbs’ gallops when we lived on Exmoor) He’s ridden by brilliant Richard Johnson, runner-up in the jockey’s championship race, behind Mc Coy 15 times and with 2,800 winners by far the second most prolific jump jockey in history. Balthazar King, was 15th in 2013, and has been trained specifically by Philip Hobbs, for the race, meaning he missed the chance to defend his Cross Country title at the Cheltenham Festival to “keep him fresh”.
I’d love Nina Carberry to become the first woman to win the Grand National on 25-1 shot ‘First Lieutenant’. She finished seventh on Character Building in 2012. She’s just won the Aintree Foxhunters this afternoon on ‘On The Fringe’ over the National fences. Surely she can get the big one on Sat?! There are so many stories this year, National Day is certainly going to be riveting!