Tuesday 20 February 2018

Eight Fairytale finishes: Can AP McCoy Shutthefrontdoor with another career-ending classic?

Arctic Fire ridden by Ruby Walsh (L) falls at the last before Jezki ridden by Tony McCoy go on to win the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle
Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers
Arctic Fire ridden by Ruby Walsh (L) falls at the last before Jezki ridden by Tony McCoy go on to win the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Boyers

Michael Verney

AP McCoy has vowed to retire on the spot and bring the curtain down on his glittering career if he is successful aboard JP McManus' Shutthefrontdoor in Saturday's Aintree Grand National.

The most successful jump jockey of all time is a shoo-in for an extraordinary 20th Jockeys Championship and bids to end his all-conquering career with the sweetest victory of them all.

Can the Antrim man capture his second National and finish with a fairtytale? Independent.ie have documented the great eight - stars of the past who ended their career at the pinnacle.

Henry Shefflin (Hurling)

Henry Shefflin

The recently-retired Kilkenny maestro will go down as one of the greatest exponents of the art of hurling, all the more because he exited when in possession of all of the game's major titles.

The 11-time All Star was a reigning Walsh Cup, League, Leinster and All-Ireland winner with the Cats while holding county, Leinster and All-Ireland honours with his club Ballyhale Shamrocks.

Is there a better way to go out on top? It's no wonder they call him King Henry as his achievements tower over any other player, past or present.


Frankel (Horse Racing)

Tom Queally riding Frankel

The Henry Cecil-trained machine wowed audiences as a three-year-old with a scintillating display in the 2,000 Guineas when leading from pillar to post, romping home by an unprecedented six lengths in the Newmarket Classic.

Tom Queally's mount was unbeaten in all 14 races, accumulating just under £3 million in prize-money and went out with a bang on his final race ensuring audiences would never forget him.

Given the fragility of equine talent, dreams often turn to nightmares but his Champion Stakes swan song at Ascot beating Cirrus Des Aigles cemented his status as an all-time great.


Alex Ferguson (Soccer)

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Alex Ferguson

26 years is a long time in football but the end of Ferguson's trophy-laden managerial career, spanning four different decades, left Manchester United fans mourning the world over.

The Red Devils' gaffer oversaw 38 different title wins, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies, but few would have given him more enjoyment than his last.

In his final season Fergie managed to conjure a League title, mainly based on his astute signing of Robin Van Persie from rivals Arsenal, and become further revered by the Old Trafford faithful.


Rocky Marciano (Boxing)

Marciano is justifiably proclaimed as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time retiring undefeated after 49 fights, 43 of which amazingly came by knockout.

The Brockton Blockbuster is also the only boxer to hold the heavyweight title and never relinquish it in the ring but his story could have been so much different having been knocked down in his final bout by Archie Moore.

But, Rocky, who famously retired the Brown Bomber Joe Louis, got back on his feet and put his opponent to the sword in the ninth round keeping his perfect record. Can Floyd Mayweather also retire with gold around his waist? We shall learn more May 2.


John Elway (American Football)

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SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 25: Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway (L) scrambles for an eight-yard gain in the second half of Super Bowl XXXII against the Green Bay Packers in San Diego, CA 25 January. In the background is Green Bay Packers defender Reggie White. (Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Hall of Fame inductee Elway will be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of American Football and it was appropriate that a 16-year career, which was starved of glory on the biggest stage, ended with back-to-back Super Bowls.

After three final losses, Elway, who played his entire career with the Denver Broncos, made it fourth time lucky in the 1997 season capturing his first Super Bowl ring.

A year later the Broncos defeated defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII where he received MVP in what would be the final game of his illustrious career. Not a bad way to go out.


Brian O'Driscoll (Rugby)

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll was a Six Nations winner last year

It was fitting that the inspirational Irish centre would get the send-off worthy of his contribution to rugby on this island when picking up two major trophies in a grandstand finish.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland won an absorbing Six Nations, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, when narrowly holding on under intense French pressure and making O'Driscoll's dream come true.

His second Six Nations triumph was soon to be followed by a Pro12 title with his club Leinster in what was the final game of a national treasure. As always, BOD went out in style.


Edge (WWE)

A left field selection but fans of Vince McMahon's WWE were rocked when 11-time world champion Edge, real name Adam Copeland, announced he would be retiring from professional wrestling with immediate effect on Smackdown in April 2011.

The Rated-R superstar had reached the pinnacle and was reigning World Heavyweight Champion but after a series of neck and spinal injuries left him risking paralysis, the Canadian was forced to leave the squared-circle.

Already inducted into the Hall of Fame, he might not have went out on his own terms but he retired as world champion and thankfully with his health in tact. In a business where there are so many tragedies, Edge was success story.


Steve Redgrave (Rowing)


Steve Redgrave

There are many great Olympians but few come close to Sir Steve for the longevity in their chosen event. Picking up his first gold medal in the Coxed Four event in Los Angeles in 1984, few could have predicted he would be winning his fifth consecutive Olympic gold at the Sydney Games in 2000 - least of all himself. After winning his fourth gold in 1996, Redgrave famously declared that if anyone saw him close to a boat again they could shoot him. Thankfully no-one did.


The man who famously announced he was hanging up his oar after winning his fourth gold in Atlanta, giving permission to anybody who catches him in a boat again to shoot him.

Luckily, Redgrave, regarded by many as Britain's greatest ever Olympian, did return to his boat and in an extraordinary turn of events he captured gold for the fifth consecutive Olympic Games at Sydney in 2000.

Remarkably, Redgrave discovered he had diabetes just three years before his crowning glory and his success against all the odds make his story even more of a fairytale than most.

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