Wednesday 21 February 2018

'She can get very excited over races' – AP McCoy hails Queen of England's support following knighthood

AP McCoy
AP McCoy
Declan Whooley

Declan Whooley

AP McCoy says horse racing is very fortunate to have such a loyal supporter as Queen Elizabeth after the decorated jockey was awarded a knighthood for his achievements in the sport.

The 41-year-old former jockey officially retired at the end of April when he brought the curtain down on a spectacular 23-year National Hunt career.

He is only the second jockey in history to have been awarded a knighthood, with Gordon Richards the first in 1953.

Speaking to Brendan O'Connor on RTE Radio's The Ryan Tubridy Show, McCoy admitted it was a huge moment for both himself and the sport.

"It's a huge honour," he admitted. "I do hope the news will reflect well on our sport."

McCoy paid tribute to the influence of the Queen in the sport.

"For horse racing, the Queen is a huge supporter. She is so into horse racing. The queen is very good for the game. I have been lucky enough to spend some time with her. She is very knowledgeable.

"She is very passionate about it. Horse racing very lucky to have her involved.

"She's very normal. You can say that about the Queen. I sat with her through a few races at Royal Ascot. She gets excited by it. If anyone saw here horse win in Royal Ascot a few years ago you saw she was quite animated.

McCoy, though, admitted a sense of incredulity when he gained notification of the honour for services to horseracing.

He told the Times: "It was a couple of weeks ago I got the news.

"I was just about to go into a charity event, in London, and quickly browsing through my emails - and there was this message from the Home Office.

"I read it again. And then I read it again. Even then, I was wondering whether it might be some kind of hoax.

"They had asked me to call this number, and I was wondering which practical joker would be on the line.

"To be considered worthy of the same recognition as Sir Gordon is something that is going to take a long time to sink in."

McCoy counted 31 Cheltenham Festival winners, as well as two Gold Cups and one famous Grand National success, among his big-race haul.

He was also crowned champion jockey for 20 consecutive seasons, with the trophy decommissioned and awarded to him permanently at the end of the last campaign.

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