Tony McCoy’s winning feeling on Taquin Du Seuil helps ease the pain

• McCoy in agony after fall in Cheltenham Festival bumper
• 'It hurts a lot but I felt I could get through it,' says jockey

Tony McCoy got the good news that mattered most to him on Wednesday night, when his seven-month-old son, Archie, returned to the family's home near Lambourn from a London hospital after cardiac surgery last week. The 39-year-old father gave an encouraging report of Archie's progress, concluding with: "He's probably doing better than me at the moment."

That was no throwaway line. McCoy was in obvious back pain throughout this day at the races, having taken a serious kicking when his mount was brought down in the final hurdle race on Wednesday. Typically, he had ridden in the bumper race half an hour later but he appeared almost crippled at times on Thursday.

Dismounting appeared to be a particular source of discomfort, the champion resorting to gingerly sliding down the horse's side, then taking a few seconds to absorb the agony of hitting the ground before turning away. He moved, limping, at no more than a stately pace between paddock and weighing room.

"It hurts a lot, I was up in the night," he said, "but I felt if I managed myself right, I could get through it. However sore I feel now, I would have felt a lot worse watching someone else win."

His courage was rewarded immediately when McCoy took the opening race on Taquin Du Seuil, somehow delivering the all-action finishing effort which could be his trademark, despite the consequent agony. "I'm sore but probably not as sore as Bryan Cooper," he said, in reference to the jockey who had surgery on Thursday on a "very complex" leg fracture, sustained in the same race as McCoy's injury.

Painkillers helped McCoy cope with his day's work. Jockeys are not required to comply with the Wada code that prevents other sportsmen from taking over-the-counter medication; British regulations give jockeys quite a bit of latitude to ride in defiance of recent injury, rather than simply stamping on anything that might be seen as a performance enhancer.

Were McCoy riding in France, he might have had to put this day down to recuperation, since the ban on drugs there is much more wide-ranging and includes all painkillers. As it was, the rider will still have had to convince the medical team that he met the minimum standard of fitness before being allowed to point a horse at these famous fences. One would like to think that this particular medical team would not be easily satisfied, having been criticised for allowing Davy Russell to ride last year, just hours after he was fitted with a chest drain.

Taquin Du Seuil's success was the high point of McCoy's day and he suffered a different kind of agony in the feature World Hurdle, finishing third when he had the option to ride the winner, More Of That. He was still first to congratulate Barry Geraghty, who scored on a McCoy reject for the second time this week.

McCoy brushed aside any suggestion that he might not be in actionon Friday. His five rides include the fancied Triolo D'Alene in the Festival's highlight, the Gold Cup. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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