AP McCoy Decides To Hang up his Boots
Tony McCoy has spent more than two decades riding not just more winners but also more horses than any National Hunt jockey in history. He has, like every jump jockey, suffered broken bones and concussive falls with the chance of a more serious injury, ever present whenever he climbs into the saddle. Yet McCoy will emerge on the other side not just as an undisputed, unbeaten champion of his sport, the title-winner in every one of his 20 seasons as a senior rider, but he will also do so on his own terms. He chose the moment to announce his retirement with the same sense of timing and theatre that marked some of his best rides, like the Grand National victory on “Don’t Push It” in 2010 that arrived just when everyone had started to think that it never would. McCoy’s wife, Chanelle, and his agent, Dave Roberts, were at Newbury and knew what was coming, but everyone else was momentarily stunned by the jockey’s announcement when McCoy climbed down from his 200th winner of the season and immediately announced that he will hang up his boots at the end of April.
Nothing has ever seemed to stop McCoy, and his constant presence at the top of the National Hunt championship has been familiar and reassuring since he arrived from Ireland and immediately won the conditionals’ championship in 1995. At times, McCoy has broken records with such regularity then extending landmarks that many thought would stand forever, that it has been possible to take him a little for granted. The stunned silence that greeted his announcement at Newbury was the sound of several thousand racing professionals and fans coming to terms with the thought that an established part of their everyday lives was about to disappear. Everyone knew it would happen eventually, and that given the risks attached to every ride, it could happen at any time, but it was not something anyone wanted to think about.
Back in 1995 as he set out on his first season as a senior jockey, nobody would have imagined that McCoy would still be riding in 2015, with over 4,300 wins in his bag to-date. It would have seemed certain that somewhere along the line, he would have had a nasty fall, a serious injury or even just a poor run of form for long enough so that someone else would be able to grab the championship, but that never happened. Despite all the falls and setbacks, the myriad of moments when his career was in the balance and bad luck was ready to step in, McCoy emerged unbroken and with the modesty and humility of a true champion. When McCoy rode his 4,000th winner, at Towcester, in November 2013, he said he felt “proud for the first time” of what he had achieved. In his 20 seasons as a senior jockey, he has not only been the champion by a wide margin, but he has also recorded a strike-rate above 20%, better than one winner in every five rides. McCoy has won more than £1m in prize money in every one of those 20 seasons, and in addition to the Grand National, a race that has eluded many other top National Hunt jockeys down the years, he has also won almost every other major race in the calendar at least once.
The next two-and-a-half months will give everyone a final chance to witness one of the greatest sportsmen Britain has seen doing what he has done better than anyone else in history, and see it up close for themselves. Who would the best Horseracing tipster in the World nominate as his successor? Will there ever be another one like him?