Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 21 February 2018

McCoy rides off into sunset as he announces retirement

Tony McCoy celebrates winning the National on Don't Push It
Tony McCoy celebrates winning the National on Don't Push It
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Tony McCoy once said "I think I'm unbreakable" but what he did concede when announcing his impending retirement at the end of this season is that "time waits for no man in sport."

But one thing is for certain - in the sport of racing, no man has done more than McCoy to rewrite the record books or command the absolute faith of punters up and down the country.

Getting to 1,000 winners in a career in Britain seemed out of reach for jump jockeys until Stan Mellor broke the mould when reaching four figures on Ouzo at Nottingham in December 1971.

So who could possibly have thought, nearly 40 years later, that figure would be quadrupled as McCoy bagged his 4,000th over jumps in Britain and Ireland.

There is no question that jumping has moved on since Mellor was in the saddle. Brilliant champions such as Jonjo O'Neill, John Francome, Peter Scudamore and Richard Dunwoody have all given the sport a push, but McCoy has taken the profession to a higher level and achieved a level of dominance rarely seen in competitive sport.

With an unparalleled determination to succeed in every race, whether it be a selling hurdle at Newton Abbot or the Cheltenham Gold Cup, McCoy has rewritten virtually every record in the book, some more than once.

From his 1994/'95 debut season in Britain, McCoy has ruled the National Hunt game, bagging title after title to make him undisputed champion for the last 18 years, smashing records along the way and bouncing back from some serious spills with the minimum of fuss.

Other notable landmarks include the most successful season in history, an amazing 289 winners in 2001/'02, and the overtaking of Dunwoody's all-time record total of 1,699 winners on Mighty Montefalco at Uttoxeter on August 27, 2002, to become the winning-most jump jockey in British history.

He completed a career total of 1,000 winners in December 1999 and it had taken just over five years, which was more than five years quicker than the previous best. His 1,500th came just two years later.

The Ulsterman has won the biggest races, too, landing the rare Cheltenham Gold Cup/Champion Hurdle double on Mr Mulligan and Make A Stand in 1997 and the King George VI Chase on Best Mate in 2002. Binocular, Brave Inca and the ill-fated Synchronised have also added championship laurels at the biggest meeting of all.

And Edredon Bleu's win in the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase was hailed as one of the great finishes of all, as McCoy's mount edged the gallant Direct Route.

His Grand National victory aboard Don't Push It in 2010 ended his 15-year hoodoo in the race. McCoy has now set the bar so high, only a superhuman effort will see someone top his records. It is unimaginable - he is unbreakable, after all.

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