Sunday 25 June 2017

Offaly teenager Mark Boylan sings emotional tribute for retiring racing hero AP McCoy

Mark with 20-time champion jockey Tony McCoy after he rode his horse Mardale at Doncaster
Mark with 20-time champion jockey Tony McCoy after he rode his horse Mardale at Doncaster

Michael Verney

Singing and songwriting have allowed Offaly teenager Mark Boylan to already fulfil many of his hopes and dreams and last night he played before his horse racing hero Tony McCoy at a special celebratory event in Liverpool.

Mark, 17, got a call at the eleventh hour to sing at an Audience with AP McCoy on the eve of Antrim jockey's bid to bring down the curtain on a record-breaking career aboard Shutthefrontdoor in the Aintree Grand National today.  

The Banagher College Leaving Certificate student was luckily on Easter holidays and jumped at the opportunity to play his tribute song, entitled the Greatest, before a 1000-strong auditorium.

"I've been putting in serious hours at the study and made the call to cut back on the music a bit this year but when I got the call from the the BBC, this was an opportunity I couldn't refuse," Mark said.

"In what could be a fairytale finish to the great man's racing career, this truly is a dream come true for me. To sing my song  in the presence of AP with his retirement fast approaching will be class.

"If McCoy wins his second Grand National it'll take the roof off the place, it would be a magical moment and if anybody deserves to retire at the pinnacle he does."

Here's the live performance:

This was not Mark's first racing trip and having followed the sport of kings since he was a toddler, even vaguely recalling watching Istabraq from his cot, he has achieved an amazing amount for such a young man.

His lyrical talents have allowed him to travel to some of the world's greatest racing occasions, including Cheltenham for his songs The Festival and Kauto Star as well as the United States with Stateside, which was the official theme song of the 2011 Breeders' Cup.

"Sometime in the future I might look back and think about it all and some of the amazing experiences I've had but for the moment I like to keep looking forward and think of the next challenge," Boylan said.

"It's always so much easier when you love what you're doing and music is perfect for me because I get to stay involved in horse racing without actually getting the leg up.

"The lyrics just flow. It's effortless because you're singing about something you love, there's always a lot of passion in it."

Mark has appeared on the Morning Line, played before 70,000 spectators in Churchill Downs which he described as 'spine-tingling' and even made an appearance on Fox News.

He regularly sings after the last race of the Festival and remarkably his song for Campbell Gillies, who tragically died in 2012, went to number two in the iTunes market, with only Ed Sheeran ahead of him.

For his contributions to the Injured Jockeys Fund, trainer Nicky Richards presented him with a 10% stake in a beautiful mare called Mardale, who has ran smartly in bumper races thus far.

Mark's love for racing and particularly McCoy is clear to see, and there has only ever been one champion since he developed an equine interest. A story which is close to his heart shows his admiration for the 20-time champion.

He said: "Mardale's usual pilot Brian Harding took a nasty fall at Doncaster in the previous race and we were left stranded without a jockey. We were panicking a bit when we saw McCoy and asked him would he ride our horse.

"He had a late flight booked back to Dublin to ride Jezki in the Irish Champion Hurdle but said he would miss it to ride our horse and get the first plane home in the morning instead.

"When he agreed I was nearly on the floor with pure excitement. To meet the man was a crazy experience but to have him actually ride my horse was something else. I can always say that no matter what."

He credits his father Dave with his love for all things musical while his mother Helena, who grew up next to Aidan O'Brien's wife Ann-Marie, ensured that he met Joseph O'Brien and became friendly with the Ballydoyle team at a young age.

Mark somehow ended up in the winning picture when St Nicholas Abbey won in Kentucky and he writes a racing column called 'Boylan Over' for The Sporting Post in South Africa, a career he would like to get into upon completion of school.

He concluded: "I couldn't imagine life without racing and I love the whole equine side of it, the mechanics of these extraordinary animals who simply take your breath away with their feats of brilliance."

Online Editors

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport