JOCKEY Tony McCoy has delayed his Cheltenham pilgrimage by two days after his baby son was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation.
The champion jockey's seven-month-old son Archie had cardiac surgery last Friday in London and his dad has been keeping a close vigil at his bedside ever since.
Tony – known as AP – said that the build-up this year's festival had been the "most difficult" of his life. "As any parent will know, the health of their children is paramount," said the Antrim sportsman.
"Archie has recently been diagnosed with a bronchial tube narrowing, which was restricting the air flow to and from his lung."
Archie is AP (39) and his wife Chanelle's second child after their seven-year-old daughter Eve.
Due to the emergency operation and the recovery time, AP decided not to ride yesterday or today in racing. Jockeys often travel with their horses to the Cotswolds town ahead of the racing, but AP decided to stay with Chanelle and Archie in hospital.
While most of the Irish jockeys arrived in Cheltenham last Saturday, AP won't saddle up until tomorrow, when he hopes to ride his horse Gilgamboa for Enda Bolger in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
The jockey reached 4,000 career wins last November but it took him 15 attempts to win the Grand National, which he secured in 2010.
The champion jockey holds both an MBE and an OBE.
Although he's spending time with his baby son in a London hospital AP said he probably would have rested up ahead of the festival regardless.
"I would probably have taken the days off to freshen up for Cheltenham anyway," said the racing legend, who is considered the greatest jump jockey of all time.