This one hurt!
Was this AP McCoy’s greatest winner? Legend has it that it was certainly one of them, and perhaps his best Festival winner?
Maljimar, who carried my money at 14-1 under Daryl Jacob, had the perfect run. He cruised through the race taking it up as they turned for home, and led by at least 5 lengths halfway up the run in. This was counting money time. But then, when it seemed almost too late to matter, the petrol gauge began to flicker on empty. Commentator Mike Cattermole shouted “Maljimar needs the line” but it didn’t come and Wichita Lineman driven past Nenuphar Collonges claimed Maljimar in the shadow of the post to win.
The amazing thing about McCoy’s ride wasn’t winning the race. I think he was gifted that by a leader who just didn’t get up the hill. What was impressive was even getting Wichita Lineman into a challenging position. Watching the race back you can see that the favourite under McCoy had anything but a smooth passage. He nearly fell jumping the downhill fence on the first circuit, when in mid division. Then having regrouped and beginning to get back into it he blundered one of the ditches down the back and at 3 out had a wall of horses in front of him. But he was a stayer and under Sa typical McCoy drive he jumped the last in third and stayed on best of all up the hill to grab Maljimar in the shadow of the post. Gutted! 14-1 (of course to win not each way).
Unfortunately there was to be a sad ending to the Wichita Lineman story, as he suffered a fatal fall at the first fence of his next race the Irish Grand National just a month later. But for that ride, and that win, together with his legendary rider he is part of Cheltenham folklore.