Sir Anthony McCoy rolled back the years when coming out on top on Quizical in the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland at the Curragh.
The record-breaking 20-times champion jumps jockey gave a vintage front-running performance on the Sheila Lavery-trained four-year-old to beat eight other top jockeys from both codes in the charity race that has received huge backing.
McCoy had his mount in the prime position from the start of the one-mile contest and soon had Quizical into a rhythm and travelling smoothly.
Despite top-weight, the 11-4 favourite galloped on resolutely to beat Aussie Valentine – ridden by McCoy’s great friend and long-time rival Ruby Walsh – by a length and a half. Johnny Murtagh steered Red Striker into third place.
McCoy – who even performed a Frankie Dettori-style flying dismount afterwards – said: “I’m very proud to be here today racing for a great cause.
“We can be very proud of horse racing in general in Ireland. The stable staff, racegoers, owners, trainers, jockeys – everyone has given so much support to the amazing man that Pat Smullen is.
“Pat is a special person and a great friend to us all. Unfortunately it’s tough and sad circumstances what we’re doing today, but it just shows you what a brilliant sport this is.”
He added: “I genuinely always thought I was going to win! No, seriously, you want to compete against the very best, that is what sport is all about, and these are the best jockeys we are ever likely to see.
“I said I would never ride in a horse race ever again and I meant it, but I’m glad I did today. You want to compete against the best and that is what has made this special.
“I got on the best horse and that’s what counts.”
Smullen’s popularity helped create the star-studded cast for the race.
Dermot Weld’s former stable jockey was forced into retirement after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – and as he is undergoing a second round of treatment, he was unable to ride in it himself.
Clearly moved by the occasion, Smullen said: “I’m really pleased for Sheila and John Lavery who own the horse. John was made up when he got AP to ride the horse and to get this result is what everybody wanted. It’s absolutely amazing. I’m overcome.
“This is not about me. This is about people who are in this situation and we are out to raise a lot of money and make a huge difference going forward and give people confidence, as it does me.
“What a privilege to be involved in what is a great industry.”