McCoy stars on his return at Kempton following memorable BBC award win

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Tony McCoy stars on his return to action at Kempton following memorable BBC victory
Updated: 01:34 BST, 22 December 2010

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year showed why he deserved those 293,152 votes on Sunday evening with an archetypal Tony McCoy performance at Kempton.

There should be close to 20,000 people at the track on Sunday if it can survive the big freeze and host Kauto Star's attempt to win an historic fifth King George VI Chase.

But there were barely 300 on site and most of them were industrious staff with their backs to the action.
Back in business: Tony McCoy smiles as he enters the parade ring at Kempton

Yet, returning to the saddle for the first time since polling 42 per cent in the TV vote, McCoy showed the motivation that has been the foundation of his career by first galvanising 10-1 shot Blue Monster to catch Dark Lover and then steering Giorgio Quercus to a comeback win after almost two years on the sidelines.

McCoy, who confirmed his likely King George mount is Albertas Run, said: ‘It's better than sitting at home and it brings you back to earth a bit.

I'll never forget the occasion on Sunday but if it wasn't for the day job, I would not have been there.

‘It was totally overwhelming just being one of the nominations on Sunday alongside the likes of Phil Taylor, Jessica Ennis and the two golfers — Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood.

'You only had to look at the front row and there were the Beckhams, Flintoff and Giggs.'

Two National Hunt Flat-race wins are unlikely to linger long in the McCoy memory on an afternoon when the snow-shifting JCBs never rested.

But this special card, staged to take jumps stables out of the deep freeze, provided a timely lift for McCoy's weighing room colleague Tom Siddall when Mintiverdi won the opener.

Siddall had not ridden a winner since Palypso De Creek fell in the Grand National in April, fracturing a vertebra in his neck — an injury that he did not have diagnosed until four rides and a fall a day later.

Such small victories can turn a tide and, drifting across the Sunbury-on-Thames snowfields, there was also a noticeable shift in mood that Sunday's King George could still be run.

Towcester has already become the first casualty of the Boxing Day fixture list and Market Rasen looks likely to follow but eight centimetres of snow on the Kempton frost covers on Tuesday became four as temperatures hovered at a balmy plus one.

Some fresh snow was expected on Tuesday night but the battle has not been lost as Alan Fleming's
Christmas Hurdle contender Starluck worked after racing and Paul Nicholls' Noland, second to stablemate Pepe Simo, did enough to keep him in the King George picture.
It's snow joke: Horses run on the back straight at Kempton

Clerk of the course Barney Clifford said: ‘It's frost free ground under the covers.

I am taking it day-by-day but my latest forecast for Boxing Day is for snow turning to sleet which turns to rain with a temperature of five degrees.'

Shifting the snow will be the biggest challenge and 100 workers are on stand-by to tackle the challenge.
Two more were applying a chemical spruce-up to the statue of iconic Desert Orchid which
overlooks the parade ring.

The Philip Blacker-bronze had begun to take on an unhealthy green tinge. But, after a sandblast and a couple of coats of a chemical restorer, the flying grey who won the King George four times, was looking back to his ghostly best.

The Dessie makeover further fuelled a sense of Boxing Day anticipation and history but was probably not shared by jockey Dougie Costello.

As the few walked to the turnstyles at 11.30am, Costello was loading his gear into the boot of his car for the return leg of his eight hour round trip back to Yorkshire. His only mount had been declared a late non-runner.

Happy Christmas, Dougie.


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