AP McCoy makes winning return to the saddle at Barbury

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  • Champion jump jockey AP McCoy thrilled crowds at St James’ Place Barbury Horse Trials on Saturday (11 July) as he returned to the saddle for a charity jumping competition.

    Raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund, McCoy teamed up with three of his former weighing room colleagues — Sam Twiston-Davies, Wayne Hutchinson and Richard Johnson — to take on a team of world famous eventers in the JCB Champions Challenge in the main arena.


    Credit: Barbury International Horse Trials JCB Champions Challenge.

    Andrew Nicholson, who later went on to win the CIC3* on Avebury, led the eventers’ team alongside fellow New Zealand rider Sir Mark Todd and British riders Harry Meade and Tina Cook.

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    Borrowing horses lent to them by the top teams in the inter-hunt relay event that took place just ahead of their clash, the celebrity riders had a few moments to acquaint themselves with their mounts before heading into the main arena.

    The two teams then went head-to-head over a mirror-image course, coming together in the water before kicking on for the last fence.

    In his first public appearance back in the saddle since his recent retirement, AP showed his true competitive spirit by setting a blistering pace while up against Andrew Nicholson to give his team an early lead.

    The final riders for each team — Harry Meade and Richard Johnson — crossed each other’s tracks in the water, leading to a brief stewards enquiry however the jockeys were crowned the winners.

    Following the race AP said: “Thank you to the eventers and the hunts for taking part to raise funds for the Injured Jockeys Fund, which is a really important organisation for horseracing and beyond.

    It felt great to be back in the saddle and today was something a bit different, and at least we won!

    Credit: Barbury International Horse Trials JCB Champions Challenge

    Despite victory over the eventers, the jump jockeys were not unbeaten over the course.

    The Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase team of Debbie Honour, Jeremy Adams, Hamish Firth and Andrew Clarke — winners of the senior inter-hunt relay competition — had taken on the jockeys in an earlier round and come home with the overall winning time.

    BHWC team chef d’equipe Susie Beecroft told H&H: “We’ve had such a fantastic day and want to thank the organisers for hosting another great event.

    We’ve had a wonderful relay season with three wins so far and are delighted to have been involved in supporting the Injured Jockeys Fund this afternoon.”

    The winning junior inter-hunt relay team from the Portman Hunt consisted of two pairs of sisters.

    Thomma and Bea Shepherd along with Olivia and Martha Allhusen were narrowly beaten by the eventers team when they went head-to-head as part of the afternoon’s entertainment in the main ring.

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