Writers pick McCoy as sportsman of the year
There may not have been much racing this month, but if December continues as it has begun for Tony McCoy, his mantlepiece might just need underpinning.
Yesterday, two days after picking up a couple of trophies at the Derby awards, the 15-times Champion Jockey was named Sportsman of the Year at the British Sports Awards, in London.
While he has been picking up accolades on an annual basis within racing almost since he started -- it was the 12th time the Horserace Writers and Photographers' Association (HWPA) had voted him Jump Jockey of the Year at the Derby awards -- the significance of yesterday's recognition, voted for by the Sports Journalists Association, was that it was against all-comers from all sports.
It took victory in one race, last April's Grand National on Don't Push It, rather than the collective achievement of more than 3,350 other winners, to awaken the wider sporting community's awareness of his astounding success in the toughest of games. But the message, it seems, has finally filtered over racing's constricted parish boundary, and it tees him up nicely for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year a week on Sunday.
Fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell, the US Open champion golfer who held his nerve to hole the winning putt in the Ryder Cup and also beat Tiger Woods in a play-off last Sunday, was runner-up.
"It was very flattering to win the award and to have it presented by someone as distinguished as Michael Parkinson," said McCoy while he was on his way to support Arsenal in their Champions League game last night.
"There were some amazing candidates in the category, like Mark Cavendish, Graeme McDowell and Tom Daley. I can't really believe I've beaten them. It's great for us that the sports journalists have recognised someone from racing.
"The only good thing about the bad weather is that I was able to be there in person to get to meet so many sporting A-listers and to receive the award. Normally, I can't do lunches. If I did every one I was invited to, I wouldn't be Champion Jockey!"
The 36-year-old is the only jockey riding to have won the National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. However his dozen HWPA jump jockey awards pale compared to the 16 'Lesters'-- the jockeys' equivalent of the Oscars -- he has picked up. Racing will be hoping he can top them all on Sunday week. (© Daily Telegraph, London)