It adds a bit of extra seasoning to the AP McCoy legend if, like me, you regard his greatest ride as one you wouldn't expect of the man who made his name riding hard-fit novice hurdlers for Martin Pipe. No well-judged tear-off from the front à la Make A Stand, nor the and-you're-coming-with-me bloody-mindedness of Wichita Lineman, but a ride that was about finesse and judgement as much as it was his famed brute strength. A Muhammed Ali to Wichita Lineman's Earnie Shavers, AP's effort to get Nostringsattached home in front in the 2009 Summer Plate was a mile away from archetypal McCoy, yet you imagine that no one else could have pulled it off.
Nostringsattached was a shirker who had continually thrown races away under pressure and was, come the summer of 2009, only getting worse. Exaggerated waiting tactics had seen him be coaxed to success on the first-ever fixture at Ffos Las, however, and as a result he was sent off a 7/2 favourite for the Summer Plate at Market Rasen a month later.
The greatness of McCoy's ride was delivered in one beautiful combination at the end, as opposed to a succession of blows. Up until they came into the straight things had largely gone to plan, including a strong pace that had allowed McCoy to take the ultra-patient approach again. Then Nostringsattached, still in the rear division, was squeezed for room three out and all over a sudden in what looked a pretty desperate position.
Even if McCoy had been tempted to panic, the whip wasn't really an option open to him. Nostringsattached wasn't one to take a telling and habitually hung under such pressure. Hands and heels was the only thing for it- and make sure you don't get there too soon.
It's fair to say that McCoy and Nostringsattached didn't. In fact, they couldn't have got there any later. Still more than three lengths down at the last, Nostringsattached gained gradually all the way to the line and reached stablemate Keepitsecret in the very last stride. It was one of those photo finishes in which you just knew the result.
It's time for full disclosure: I was there that day, as part of the Ipso Facto Syndicate of owners. You may now see the nostalgic tinge to this piece, but I still remember how it felt at the time. It was faintly ridiculous that everything proceeded as normal after such an extraordinary effort. Race-goers cheered no louder than usual, the trophy presentation contained no great fanfare and Jonjo O'Neill wandered the Owners & Trainers bar with the reserved satisfaction of a man who'd merely had a tenner on the winner.
My colleague Dan Barber, ever the chatty Northerner, struck up a conversation with O'Neill in which the latter, half-smiling, would memorably call one of his runners later on the card "a tramp". It doesn't bear thinking about what names he might have reserved for Nostringsattached had anyone else been in the saddle that afternoon.