Jockey picks himself up, gets back in the race

It's often best to return to horse that threw you

Sports Plus

February 03, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Steeplechase has much to do with jumping - but its real danger may lie in jumping to conclusions.

Jockey Tony McCoy and his mount, Family Business, got knocked down during the Feast of St. Raymond Novices' Chase on Jan. 23 at Southwell in Nottinghamshire, England.

Knocked down - but certainly not out.

McCoy figured the race was lost when Family Business, the 8-11 favorite, made a mistake at the 10th of 17 fences and threw him to the rain-soaked ground.

"I started walking back toward the weighing room, watching the others going 'round," the jockey said.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, McCoy liked what he saw.

"There was one less standing every time I looked," he said. "I thought maybe I should get back up and see what happens."

Here's what happened: McCoy hitched a ride on a Land Rover back to his horse, remounted, re-jumped the 10th fence and completed the race.

And won it.

The improbable victory was made possible because all seven horses entered in the race had falls that unseated their jockeys.

"It's not only the most extraordinary race I've ever won, it's probably one of the most extraordinary races ever run," said McCoy, a six-time champion steeplechase jockey.

The winning time of 10 minutes, 30 seconds was more than four minutes slower than the standard time for the 3 1/16-mile course.

"I can't believe it," McCoy said. "It should have been only a matter of getting 'round on him and I fell off - but if someone offered me another winner like that, I wouldn't say no."

Hit and run

Sri Lankan runner Amradu Cooray is another athlete who never throws in the towel.

Cooray suffered cuts to his shoulder and elbow when hit by a car during the ExxonMobil International Marathon in December in Singapore. But he got up and ran the last four miles, finishing fourth.

"Perhaps for next year," Loh Lin Kok, president of the Singapore Amateur Athletics Association, said, "we will appeal to have the roads closed."

Still in the running

Another runner with staying power is American Fenya Crown, who finished the 2001 Rome Marathon at the age of 88 and after overcoming three bouts of breast cancer in the past 10 years.

Reckless abandonment

Others have less perseverance.

Outfielder Roger Cedeno did not play the final 19 games of last baseball season for the Detroit Tigers.

"We'd been off for five days because of 9/11 and were having a light workout," manager Phil Garner recalled. "I asked the guys to run the bases so they could get the feel of it.

"Cedeno said he didn't have to do it, and he said, `We don't even have to play any more games.' I couldn't believe that. OK, if that's your attitude, then you don't play any more games."

Cedeno won't be playing any more games with Detroit, period. He's now a New York Met.

Change would do him good

Then there's the Minnesota Vikings' Randy Moss, who acknowledges not always giving his best.

Fox analyst Marv Levy: "The difference between Randy Moss and a dollar bill is, you can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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