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The real McCoy

AP McCoy Credit Paul Flickr Nineteen times champion jump jockey AP McCoy has announced his intention to retire from the sport which he had come to personify.

At Thurles in 1992, a 17-year-old AP or Tony McCoy recorded his first racing victory aboard Legal Steps. Moving to Britain in 1994 to pursue his race career, McCoy rode 74 winners in his first season. Standing taller than most other jockeys at 5’ 10.5”, AP went on to win races at almost every major event in the UK jump racing calendar. Famous victories included the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase and every year since turning professional in 1996, McCoy has retained his status as champion jockey.

In 2010, whilst wearing his famous green and gold hooped silks (the colours of legendary trainer JP McManus), McCoy finally secured an elusive Grand National win riding Don’t Push It. Later that year, he became the first jockey to be voted as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In late 2013, AP captured his 4,000th career win and subsequently became a recipient of the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year Award.

Speaking to eolas in 2012, McCoy described his Grand National win as “probably the greatest day of my racing life.” His drive for success never faltered and he maintained: “The more you’re lucky enough to win then the more you really want,” adding: “I’m very lucky that I enjoy what I do, but I want to try and get better, and I want to win more than anyone else.”

McCoy went on to achieve exactly that, notching up a record-breaking figure of over 4,300 career wins. However, it would have been impossible for AP to avoid paying a physical price in the notoriously dangerous profession. Throughout the course of his career, spanning over two decades, McCoy has fallen an estimated 1,000 times and broken nearly every bone in his body. Having suffered punctured lungs, broken vertebrae and losing all his teeth through racing incidents, AP’s dedication to his sport is self-evident.

Fellow jockey and rival Ruby Walsh once remarked: “He’s made of concrete. He’d ride with a broken collarbone, broken ribs, he’s the old-fashioned hard guy … just a supernatural sportsman.” Widely regarded as a living legend within horse racing circles, McCoy’s final race appearance could come at the close of the British season in late April. Commenting on his decision to step down, the 40-year-old stated: “I plan to ride at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree, of course, but I’m not so sure what will happen after that.” He added: “I’ve got it in the back of my mind that I would like to retire on a winner, but we’ll see.”

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