As voting gets underway to select the 2015 Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year, SJA committee member JON RYAN suggests that the retiring champion jump jockey deserves your support
No sportsman has dominated his world quite like AP McCoy. In a remarkable career in jump racing AP, or Tony – never his given names Anthony Peter – rode his first winner in England on Chickabiddy at Exeter in 1994 at 20 and his last on Capard King at Ayr last April. In between he rode winner after winner totalling a staggering 4,357 in all and broke every jump racing riding record.
He was champion conditional jockey in 1995 and from 1996 followed 20 consecutive jockeys’ championships. His domination was complete.
In 2010 he finally won the Grand National on Don’t Push It for his long-term trainer and owner partnership of Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus. It led to him being voted SJA Sportsman of the Year and BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
While the Grand National was a long time coming, AP rode 31 winners at the Cheltenham Festival.
Throughout his career there were sacrifices . He lived on a life of dieting – at 5ft 10in his natural healthy weight would have been at least a stone more than his riding weight of 10st 5lb. Then there were the injuries that are part and parcel of jump racing, but the more your ride the more falls you have. His medical record shows a catalogue of fractures – he broke his ankle, a leg, his nose countless times, vertebrae, wrists, shoulder blades, collar bones, ribs and cheekbones and punctured his lung.
He lost teeth and suffered too many concussions to count. But throughout it all he did not complain and remained a shining example of a dedicated , brilliant sportsman. He retired on an unprecedented wave of public respect and emotion.
His achievements were recognised with the award of an MBE in 2003 and an OBE in 2010.
But he retired with one ambition unfulfilled – he had always wanted to ride 300 winners in a season and fell an agonising 11 winners short with 289 in 2002.
Quiet, unassuming, but perceptive away from the course he was ruthless, utterly professional and totally dedicated on it. He leaves a huge void in jump racing… although there is one man who had seen more than enough of the back of AP – Richard Johnson, who was runner-up to him in the champion jockey race no less than 16 times.
McCoy’s achievements are unlikely ever to be surpassed. Certainly the figures, the records and the relentless determination led him to dominate a sport as no other. That he earned the respect and affection of both his fellow professionals and the British public makes him a unique British sporting star.
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