Sunday 17 December 2017

AP McCoy announces that he is to quit while he's ahead

Tony McCoy is retiring from horse racing
Tony McCoy is retiring from horse racing
Tony McCoy and Mr Mole

Tom Peacock

A man regarded as the greatest ever jump jockey will be enjoyed by his sport for less than three more months after AP McCoy made an unexpected announcement that he will be retiring at the end of April.

McCoy has obliterated virtually ever record possible, from the quickest and highest amounts of winners achieved during a National Hunt season, to his career total, which stands at more than 4,000.

The Antrim man, 40, had revealed his decision to only two people by early last week - his jockeys' agent Dave Roberts and JP McManus, the Irish multimillionaire owner who retains McCoy to ride his substantial string of horses - before even telling his wife Chanelle.

He will continue until almost certainly becoming British champion jockey for the 20th consecutive occasion at the end of the season with no crucial races, such as the Grand National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle, missing from his CV.

McCoy had to wait until 2010 for the National after some near misses, and the victory of Don't Push It, and an orchestrated campaign by those in racing, saw him handed the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award.

He had reached his double-century once again when steering home the McManus-owned Mr Mole in a valuable chase at Newbury before springing the news live on television. "It's going to be the last time I ride 200 winners," McCoy said. "I want to go out at the top, I want to go out as champion jockey and it will be my 20th year if I can win the jockeys' championship. I want to go out while I still enjoy riding and am still relatively at the top."

McCoy went out to ride in the main race, but fell at the first hurdle on Goodwood Mirage before explaining his decision further.

"I love racing, and I'm probably the only person who is going to miss bouncing off the floor, like I've just done from Goodwood Mirage. I know I'm never going to find anything to replace that buzz."

Before joining McManus a decade ago, McCoy formed a formidable partnership with Martin Pipe and one of his final serious achievements was to pass the 4,191 winner mark of the trainer last July.

Weighing room colleague Ruby Walsh said: "It sounds a strange thing to say for someone so good, but I'll definitely miss riding against him. He's just brilliant - what makes Ronaldo? What makes Messi? What makes Federer? He's just unbelievably talented."

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