McCoy still needs two for landmark
Bargain-buy Rydon Pynes prevented Tony McCoy from moving to within one of the 4,000 winner mark in what proved an eventful Bathwick Tyres & Festival Racing Supports Racing 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Exeter.
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In a race in which loose horses wreaked havoc by swerving across the leaders at several flights, well-backed 7/1 shot Rydon Pynes engaged in a duel over the final quarter-mile with McCoy and 2/1 favourite Flemenson
At the last and on the run-in a loose horse intimidated the winner and then Flemenson, with Rydon Pynes staying on best to score by a length for absent trainer Martin Hill and jockey Hadden Frost
McCoy had no excuses and said : "It made no difference. The winner was always holding me."
Hill, who paid just £800 for Rydon Pynes at Ascot, was busy trying to uncover a similar bargain at Doncaster sales.
Frost said: "I had to laugh when I was told someone tweeted saying the cameras were coming down to watch me ride my 121st winner. The loose horse was a nuisance. At first I thought he was going to wipe me out, but he ended up hampering AP."
McCoy's mount in the following race, Keen Eye, never looked like taking a hand in the finish at any stage as Doctor Harper, backed to the exception of everything else in the race, proved different class to his rivals in the Bathwick Tyres Plymouth Novices' Hurdle.
The dual bumper winner, who was one of the last horses purchased by his owner the late David Johnson and is named after the doctor that treated him, came right away from his foes under Timmy Murphy in the manner of a useful prospect.
David Pipe indicated he would go quietly with the 8/11 favourite, saying: "My style is to keep it low key and gradually build his confidence, because in his schooling he wasn't the most natural you have ever seen, especially if he didn't meet one on the right stride.
"Timmy thinks a lot of him and I hope it will be onwards and upwards. Basically I shouldn't have run him in the Cheltenham Bumper and Timmy looked after him. It's important he gets a strong gallop, so that he can settle."
Reflecting on the purchase of the five-year-old, who is by Presenting, Pipe said: "I was on holiday in Portugal when Gerry Hogan phoned and said he had this horse. I knew I had to move quickly and typical of DJ he said go ahead and buy him."
Doctor Harper was given a quote of 33/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle by Sky Bet but is as short as 20/1 elsewhere for the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival.
Manyriverstocross (9/2) paved the way for what Alan King hopes will be a high-profile season with novice chasers when making an exemplary debut over fences.
His jumping under Robert Thornton in the Bathwick Tyres Novices' Chase was a joy to behold, and must have King contemplating bigger things in the months ahead.
The Barbury Castle trainer has made a bright start to the campaign, and said: "He won at Goodwood and has always been a classy horse with a lot of ability, but the first time we schooled him three weeks ago he was very, very good. He wants every yard of this trip, he was left in front but he's battled back.
"You wouldn't see many better rounds of jumping first time, and this is such a nice place to bring one. What happened to Smad Place was just unfortunate (fell at last on Sunday when looking likely to win) but there are some very nice novices to come such as Balder Succes who runs tomorrow."
After the already-held Dark Lover fell two out Claret Cloak moved at least a length up, but it was a never-say-die effort from the winner to claw back the deficit and prevail by a nose from the even-money favourite.
Sky Bet introduced the winner into the betting for the Jewson Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival at 25/1.
McCoy's third ride of the afternoon, Well Hello There, travelled extremely well for much of the Smith & Williamson Handicap Chase but a bad blunder just before the home straight cost him any chance of victory and he was ultimately well beaten.
Gas Line Boy (11/4 favourite) ran out a well-backed winner of the three mile handicap for owners The Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club.
The Philip Hobbs-trained gelding seized the advantage when Rydalis hung right after jumping the final fence, having looked booked for second before that incident occurred.
Hobbs, surrounded by a third of the winner's 23 owners, said: "Richard (Johnson) says we should stick to galloping tracks and not go less than three miles."
The closing Christmas Parties Here Handicap Hurdle went the way of Royal Native (8/1) for trainer Anthony Honeyball as the five year old benefited from an enterprising ride from Rachael Green to see off the challenge of Tarvini.