A Legend Retires

Posted: Apr 30 2015

After a career spanning three decades, the greatest jockey of all time, AP McCoy has decided to hang up his saddle.

His final race meet came at Sandown Park in front of a capacity 18,000 adoring fans, bringing an end to the most celebrated career in horseracing history. In a joyous occasion where the Northern Irishman rode two third place finishes, he was awarded his 20th consecutive Champion Jockey’s trophy, an honour he has earned every single year of his professional career.

Since riding his first winner Legal Steps at Thurles racecourse in Ireland in 1992 aged just 17, McCoy has looked a different class. Thanks to a lifetime of dedication to the sport, or what he calls “an addiction”, AP has left nothing to chance, devoting 25 painstaking years of his life to becoming the best – something which has involved over 1,000 falls and 300 broken bones. Combining his natural talent with the mind-set to get back up and always strive for more is what has set this extraordinary competitor apart from both his rivals in his field and even other sportsmen. It’s what makes him a winner. Very few, if any, sportsmen can compare with AP’s success in longevity.

In addition, no other man is as synonymous with his sport as McCoy is with horse-racing. Not Pele, Michael Jordan or even Muhammad Ali. Though these comparisons will humble the County Atrim-native, there is no escaping the facts. Legendary status was confirmed when he ran his 4,000th winner aboard Mountain Tunes at Towcester in 2013, let alone the 357 he’s won since. His nearest rival Richard Johnson is over 1,000 wins behind.

AP McCoy donning Chess London to Aintree for his final Grand National appearance. 

Another indication of AP’s impact on the whole sporting world would be when he became the first ever jockey to be named BBC Sports Personality in 2010, an outstanding feat considering horse-racing’s popularity in comparison to other sports in the UK. He followed this up in 2013, sporting a made-to-measure Chess London three-piece, finishing third to then Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray and Lions hero Leigh Halfpenny.

Though it will be difficult to select a favourite moment of his career, his triumph on Don’t Push It in the 2010 Grand National at his 15th time of asking will live long in the memory of every horse-racing enthusiast; galloping to victory by five lengths in front of a raucous Aintree horde. However, such is the scope of AP McCoy and his influence on an entire sport, he will not be remembered for a single moment but for the magical career he has bestowed upon us.

Thanks for the memories, AP.

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