Saturday 15 December 2018

Racing legend Tony McCoy reaches amazing landmark with 4,000th winner

Tony McCoy with his daughter Eve (right), son Archie and wife Chanelle after victory in the Weatherbys Novices Hurdle at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire
Tony McCoy with his daughter Eve (right), son Archie and wife Chanelle after victory in the Weatherbys Novices Hurdle at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire
Tony McCoy on Mountain Tunes wins The Weatherbys Novices Hurdle Race at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire.
Tony McCoy celebrates his 4,000th winner in the Weatherbys Novices Hurdle at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire.
Tony McCoy celebrates his victory on Mountain Tunes in the Weatherbys Novices´ Hurdle at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire.
Tony McCoy kisses his son Archie after victory in the Weatherbys Novices Hurdle at Towcester Racecourse, Northamptonshire
Tony McCoy

Tony McCoy created history at Towcester when Mountain Tunes provided the jockey with his 4,000th career win over jumps.

McCoy reached the magic milestone with the second of two rides at the Northamptonshire circuit after the Jonjo O'Neill-trained 6-4 favourite struck in the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle.

The 39-year-old, who has been crowned champion jockey 18 times, achieved the unprecedented landmark in the colours of owner JP McManus, to whom he has held a retainer for the last nine years.

McCoy had made no secret of his desire to secure his 4,000th winner in the green and gold silks of McManus.

McCoy was earlier out of luck aboard the O'Neill-trained and McManus-owned Church Field (3-1 favourite) in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle, having been applauded into the parade ring by racegoers and well-wishers under blue skies.

Irish point-to-point winner Mountain Tunes was making his debut under Rules in the two-mile-five-furlong contest and was ridden patiently by McCoy in the early stages.

The four-year-old made headway to close on the leaders heading down the back straight, but the game appeared to be up as his rider looked hard at work at the top of the home straight.

Panama Petrus and Kris Spin looked to have the race between them jumping the second-last, but McCoy had not given up on Mountain Tunes back in third.

Kris Spin shook off Panama Petrus, but a galvanised Mountain Tunes closed jumping the final obstacle and a thrilling tussle ensued up the hill.

In his inimitable style, McCoy threw everything at the market leader and with the packed grandstands roaring him on, Mountain Tunes claimed victory by half a length.

McCoy said: "It was just amazing, it couldn't have worked out any better.

"To do it for Jonjo and the McManus's is brilliant as they've been so good to me.

"It was always hopefully going to be in JP's colours.

"Racing people are fantastic, they are so pleased for me.

"I've had the same agent, Dave Roberts, from day one and his dad sadly passed away yesterday so I'd like to dedicate this to him.

"To have Chanelle (wife), Eve and Archie (children) here is great and to do it in the McManus silks means a lot - Eve thinks they belong to me!"

Chanelle McCoy said: "This is incredible. I didn't think he was going to do it. It was nearly too good to be true as his dad is here, his brother is here and Mr McManus is here.

"It's been a great day, Towcester's hospitality has been amazing, the crowd here is phenomenal.

"Our hearts were in our mouths, we'd given up - it was a typical AP ride, definitely."

Weighing room colleague Robert Thornton said: "He is phenomenal. It is typical of AP to do it with a ride like that, too."

McManus immediately embraced McCoy when he dismounted and said: "What a man and what a ride. I think he was more pleased because when he came in he said it was a nice horse!

"That ride sums him up. I remember when he first came to the UK, Christy Roche brought him to my attention and he said 'you know this AP, he's getting 7lb and he should be giving weight away'.

"Little did we think that day that he'd ride 4,000 winners but full marks to him, he's dedicated to the game and he's a pleasure to have around, every day you deal with him is a joy."

McManus, who like many in racing was hit very hard when JT McNamara was hurt in a fall at Cheltenham that left him paralysed: "I think racing is a close knit community, as evidenced by recent events, and AP is behind everything that is good.

"I'm so proud and pleased that I know him and his family, long may he carry on.

"It was nice that he wanted it (4,000th winner) to be in my colours, I'm choked that he did."

McCoy spoke of his appreciation at the support he had received, saying he was "humbled".

He said: "I'm very lucky I work in a great sport. I get lots of support and work for great people. You only have to look at the amount of people who have come out today and supported me. I feel very humbled by it.

"I don't feel I'm any different to anyone else. I hope everyone in the weighing room doesn't think I am any different after today.

"I've ridden 4,000 winners. I'll try to ride a few more. I'm really proud of what I've achieved and being able to last, one way or another. I'm lucky and proud to have done it."

McCoy went on: "Today it's great I've ridden 4,000 winners, but he's a young horse and sometimes you have to do things right for the horse.

"I felt he was a bit inexperienced. The race got away from him at the third-last, but horses tend to enjoy what they do and he was certainly finishing well. He was getting the hang of it.

"Jonjo told me he was a nice horse and to ride him like one and not be worried about everyone else watching.

"The horse was fantastic. You can't win any horse race without their help and I've ridden some fantastic horses.

"There is a sense of relief, no doubt, but for the first time in my life I feel a sense of pride of what I've achieved.

"This is the quickest sport in the world to bring you back down, but I do feel and happy and proud of what I've done."

By Keith Hamer

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