Tony McCoy had to settle for third aboard Mr Mole in the bet365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase, the penultimate ride of his illustrious career, at Sandown.

McCoy raced prominently on the Paul Nicholls-trained runner but the writing was on the wall as he began to push along at the third-last fence as eventual winner Special Tiara kicked for home.

While Mr Mole kept on at the one pace, McCoy could not reel back the 3-1 favourite, who ran out a six-length winner for owner Henrey de Bromhead and jockey Noel Fehily.

Former champion two-mile chaser Sprinter Sacre returned to something like his old self in second, with McCoy edged out for third place.

Winning rider Noel Fehily said of the imminent departure of McCoy: "It's very sad to see him go.

"We have been very close for the last number of years and it's a sad day for racing."

Nicky Henderson, trainer of Sprinter Sacre, has enjoyed many good days with McCoy, with Champion Hurdler winner Binocular and Grade One scorer My Tent Or Yours two recent stars for the partnership.

Henderson said: "He's been a great ally, a great friend and a great competitor.

"What a lovely guy to work with. He's just the ultimate professional.

"We are going to miss him and racing is going to miss him.

"He's put racing on the front page and has brought this crowd here - that tells you everything."

McCoy was given a thunderous reception upon his return from the track with Mr Mole and said: "This is all way beyond my expectations.

"I've had a great way of life for the last 25 years, and working with great people has made it that much more enjoyable."