Richard Johnson believes legendary jockey AP McCoy’s fearsome reputation may have cost him the chance of victory in the 2014 Grand National.
Johnson was aboard Balthazar King and looked to be coming to win the race as he closed in on leader Pineau De Re.
McCoy had loomed large on the outside of Johnson on Double Seven, causing Johnson to focus on that pair rather than the leader.
He had expected Pineau de Re to stop on the run-in, but the 11-year-old powered away under Leighton Aspell to claim a five-length success.
Johnson admitted in a recent interview with Betway that McCoy’s presence had proved to be a major distraction.
“When you get to the second last or last fence in the National there’s probably two or three of you there with every chance, but only one of you can win,” he said.
“Going to the last I was following the winner. I’d ridden it before and knew it didn’t do very much in front. It’s a long run-in after the last so I thought I’d definitely beat him.
“I was much more aware of AP (McCoy) next to me and I thought he was the one I had to beat. I got the reality from the last fence to The Elbow that he wasn’t stopping in front and I hadn’t got any more left.”
Johnson will have another go at winning the highlight of the three-day meeting for the first time when he partners Rock The Kasbah at Aintree on April 6.
The nine-year-old was an impressive winner at Cheltenham back in November, before finishing sixth under a big weight at the same course the following month.
The Philip Hobbs trained horse is priced at around 16/1 for the National and is proving popular with punters looking for each-way value in the race.
A victory for Rock The Kasbah in this year’s National would be a superb story, particularly with both Johnson and Hobbs never previously winning the event.
Horses like Tiger Roll and Anibale Fly are expected to be in the mix, but Rock The Kasbah looks a lively contender to claim first place.