Tony McCoy savoured the “special atmosphere” of Down Royal as he inched closer to 4,000 career winners on Friday.
McCoy – who hails from Moneyglass – steered home hot favourite Jezki to claim the Grade Two WKD Hurdle at the Ulster course.
The 18-times champion jockey was making only his second-ever appearance at Down Royal, and the crowds turned out in their numbers to cheer home the local hero.
The win on the Jessica Harrington-trained Jezki saw McCoy move to within eight victories of the 4,000 mark.
“I’m originally from not far from here – this was probably the first racecourse I went to as a child – so it’s nice to be back,” McCoy said afterwards.
“I haven’t been here for five years. The last time was when I won on Jered. It is just the way things have worked out with my commitments in England. I am pretty busy over there.
“But this was a ride I really wanted and I am glad I came over now.
“It’s good to get a winner any time, but it’s great to win here again.
“It is nice to be home. It is the first time in five years that JP (McManus) has a smart horse riding at Down Royal.
“It is a special atmosphere with great crowds. I am not sure how many more times I will get the chance to ride here.”
McCoy has a book of seven rides at Wetherby on Saturday as he looks to close in on the 4,000 mark.
He then travels farther north to Carlisle on Sunday, where he has a strong book of six rides.
“It is nice to get close to 4,000. I will be very proud if I can achieve it. You just take it day by day as a jump jockey, and hopefully I will be lucky enough to ride another eight winners.”