So it’s official- by the summer the genius that is AP McCoy will have been crowned Champion Jockey for an incredible 20th time and hung up his saddle for the last time.
The great round of Cheltenham Preview visits start next week- this blog will be updated every step of the way on both sides of the Irish Sea with, who knows, even a tip or two, but I could still be sitting here then writing in praise of a Champion, a Sportsman, a Genius and, which crowns it, one of the most decent human beings you could ever want to meet.
That Anthony Peter McCoy has been a Champion ever year since he forsook life with the family in Northern Ireland to try his luck in the UK(the first year he was Conditional Champion) is quite an extraordinary statistic in itself, as is the fact there is hardly a record left in National Hunt Racing he hasn’t broken. It’s probably 50-1 or bigger that by the time I retire from this job I will ever file a report which includes the phrase ‘and breaking Tony McCoy’s record.’
What has said so much about the man at work is his total drive and determination to succeed, be in at Cheltenham, Catterick or Clonmel. Significant perhaps that two of his greatest landmarks, his 3000th and 4000th winners as a rider came at little Plumpton on a Monday and Towcester on a Thursday.
But be around McCoy and you see more. A man generous beyond belief with his time. When Irish Amateur John Thomas McNamara was stricken so desperately at Cheltenham and a fund raising day at Limerick Racecourse was arranged, no one needed to ask McCoy to go- he was probably the first name on the all star cast list.
Though amid all that has gone on since he called time on his career one fan’s message did stand out ‘Come on Tony I know Arsenal (McCoy’s beloved club) lost to Spurs but do you need to take it so badly!’
Those of us who have had the privilege of working with McCoy will salute quite simply the greatest rider we will ever see. His farewell tour will be quite something and wherever the final act takes place- no offers by the way it will be on one owned by his boss JP McManus- there will be tears, not least from the man himself.
But from many of us there will be thanks, admiration and wonder.
Perhaps he can start with a few Cheltenham winners for us all next month.
By Mike Vince