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  Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 08:54 GMT
McCoy relives nightmare
Valiramix, who died in last week's Champion Hurdle
McCoy was deeply affected by Valiramix's death
Champion jockey Tony McCoy has revealed he nearly quit the Cheltenham Festival after the death of Valiramix, his mount in last week's Champion Hurdle.

The grey gelding suffered a serious leg injury after clipping heels with Ansar and falling. It was subsequently put down.

And McCoy said that the effect of the tragedy had made him consider pulling out of the rest of the annual festival.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "I live for Cheltenham but part of me just didn't want to be there any more. I didn't want to go back and race the next day.


I told people like Jonjo O'Neill at the start that he would be my best ride of the Festival... and I don't boast about horses normally
Tony McCoy

"But I knew I'd never be able to run away. I knew it would haunt me. So I carried on with the job."

The champion jockey went on to put some of his misery behind him with a win on Royal Auclair.

But the seemingly unfazed McCoy insisted the death of Valiramix still haunted him.

"It was horrific to lose a horse like that - a champion in the making," he said.

"I have ridden nearly 900 horses this year and I've ridden a lot of good winners. But it's very difficult to find one that's going to dominate, very difficult to get an Istabraq or a Desert Orchid, or a One Man. He was like Gloria Victis, he could have dominated.

"I told people like Jonjo O'Neill at the start that he would be my best ride of the Festival. I said to him 'Valiramix is a machine' and I don't boast about horses normally."

Despite insisting the scars of the grey gelding's death are still there, when asked if the tragedy had made him consider speeding up the date of his retirement, he insisted it had made it "further away".

Cheltenham stages its big jump race meeting from 12-14 March

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