Sunday 21 January 2018

Former boss Pipe leads praise for 'best jockey of all time'

Thomas Kelly

Leading figures in the racing world on both sides of the Irish Sea yesterday joined forces to pay tribute to Tony McCoy after he scooped the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The 36-year-old became the first jockey to claim the title after securing 293,152 votes -- 41pc of the overall total of 698,242 -- on Sunday evening.

Among those to heap praise on the Antrim native were Ruby Walsh, who stays with McCoy on his many trips over to England.

"It's no more than a sports person who achieves so much every year, competes as competitively and consistently and wins so much so often, deserves," said Walsh.

Leading English trainer Paul Nicholls was another to credit the 15-times champion jump jockey: "A brilliant result for AP to win it and a fantastic result for the sport."

McCoy's domination reached new heights when he teamed up with trainer Martin Pipe, and the retired handler led in the chorus of praise. "He totally deserves it and I was very proud. He's the best jockey of all time and I can say he is a true friend," said Pipe.

"He's great for racing and great for sport. He thoroughly deserves it and always had so much dedication to win and he gets the best out of every horse.

"It really was great to see him win the Grand National. He's always worked very hard at it and his desire to do it day in and day out is phenomenal.

"Pridwell beating Istabraq is one that really sticks out. He coaxed him home to put his head in front. One of AP's great strengths is that he knows exactly where the winning line is."

The man himself was quick to deflect praise on to those who have helped him a long the way.

"It's amazing," said McCoy. "To be in a room with as many sports stars as there was last night was amazing in itself, but to win such a prestigious trophy was very surreal and an unbelievable feeling.

"It's amazing to be the first jockey to actually receive the award. We certainly don't count ourselves as sports stars by any means, so for those obvious reasons it's very flattering to be the first winner of the award."

McCoy's title tops a landmark year for the jockey after he finally tasted victory aboard the JP McManus-owned Don't Push It in the Aintree Grand National at the 15th attempt.

"It was something a lot of people have talked about," McCoy said. "As a boy you try to achieve something and when you haven't done it, you want it even more.

"I was lucky this year that was put right. The Grand National would be the most famous horse race in the world and winning it was the crowning of my career."

McCoy admits he is in the twilight of his career, but he is far from ready to hang up his boots just yet.

"I really enjoy what I do and I love doing it, hopefully I can keep going a bit longer yet. I'm well aware there is a lot more of my career behind me than there is in front of me, but hopefully I'll be able to enjoy it for a bit yet," he remarked.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport