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Tomy McCoy as hungry as ever as 4,000 wins looms

Updated: Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 12:21 | Comments

Tony McCoy is closing on 4,000 wins
Tony McCoy is closing on 4,000 wins

Tony McCoy's relentless search for winners takes him to Northern Ireland and Down Royal on Friday where he will partner Jessica Harrington's Jezki in the WKD Hurdle.

The five-year-old's only defeat last season came in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but he turned the tables on his conqueror that day, Champagne Fever, at Punchestown.

He is one of an exciting band of young horses who carry the green and gold silks of JP McManus that may not reach their full potential for another few years, although McCoy is concentrating on the here and now.

"I've never really thought about it like that," said McCoy, who is just a handful of winners away from a magical 4,000 over jumps - well over a 1,000 more than nearest rival Richard Johnson - and has more than one eye on surpassing another milestone beyond that.

"I just enjoy riding each good horse for the moment and as long as JP has some better ones coming through I'm happy for him.
"In the last few years he's won the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup and the Grand National so he's not had a bad run recently.

"It's possible that he has a better line of younger horses coming through at the minute, but how successful they eventually become will depend on a lot of things.

"Last year there appeared to be a lot of smart novices around and Jezki's only defeat was at Cheltenham. Horses like him are the ones you look forward to through the summer.

"(But) like a lot of the novices, My Tent Or Yours, Our Conor and the rest, they all have to improve a huge amount to beat Hurricane Fly. He's the champion and until someone beats him it stays that way.

"He's won 16 Grade Ones, that's unbelievable, and I won't believe those novices are as good as him until they beat him."

McCoy is very good at deflecting praise on to others, and stresses he would not have been so successful without his initial grounding.

Speaking in his role as an ambassador for William Hill, he said: "I was very lucky that I started out with the late Bill Rock and he helped me get into Jim Bolger's as he knew that was the best place to be.

"If you surround yourself with successful people you have a better chance of being a success yourself.

"From when I landed in England I was with Toby Balding who trained Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle winners as well as big winners on the Flat so all my career I've been lucky like that."

There are very few targets left for McCoy to breach. However, there is still one figure he would like to better before he hangs up his riding boots for the final time.

"Hopefully, if I stay in one piece I'll have my 4,000th winner. When I rode 3,000 I never thought that would happen, but Martin Pipe's record of 4,182 is something that I've thought about.

"We still keep in touch, when I had a spare 20 minutes on Monday we had a chat and his figure is there for me to aim at."

McCoy's dominance became apparent once he teamed up with 15-times champion trainer Pipe, who had previously employed Richard Dunwoody - a man McCoy idolised in his younger days - as stable jockey for a brief spell.

"You learn off everybody each day and I was determined to learn off him. Dunwoody was champion jockey and I looked up to him," said McCoy.

"I wanted to be as successful as he was. Now you look at jockeys like Ruby Walsh. He's the best there's ever been for me - a complete horseman.

"Time moves on in every walk of life. For instance, people said there'd never be another John Francome.

"Look at Richard Johnson, he has achieved so much in his career without the full credit or publicity he deserves. I wouldn't have achieved what I have if it wasn't for him as he has never once let up behind me, he keeps pushing me on.

"It's such a tough sport that we enjoy each other's success. We can appreciate what we go through every day and we've earned the respect of each other."

As McCoy reaches somewhere near the twilight of his career, the inevitable question of training in the future crops up, but his response is lukewarm at best.

"I honestly don't think I'm cut out to train, that's the top and bottom of it," he says.

"Riding is hard work and I've given it my all for 25 years, if I trained I'd have to be as obsessive as I have been in the saddle and I don't think I could be.

"I've enjoyed my career but it's been all-consuming. Training jumps horses especially is not easy and while there may be a little more leeway on the Flat it's still very hard work.

"I've said before if a Sheikh or John Magnier wanted to bankroll it I'd think about it but I'm certainly not planning on doing it. What if JP said he'd back me? There's no chance, he's had enough of me already I think!

"JP is fantastic to ride for and he gives young trainers a chance. What he tends to do is if the trainer has supported me and he buys a horse off them, he leaves it with them - there's lots of instances like that.

"He supports young trainers. Look at Rebecca Curtis, I ride for her quite a bit and JP has a few with her now and we enjoyed a great day with At Fishers Cross together (at Cheltenham).

"This time of year is really exciting, everyone thinks they have a champion. We've got Jezki, My Tent Or Yours and the novice chasers that have won already like Shutthefrontdoor and Defy Logic who have already been really impressive.

"JP has also just bought one off Aidan O'Brien, Carriganog. I've known Aidan since we were at Jim Bolger's together and I've won a Galway Hurdle for him in the past so it would be nice to think I might be riding for him again.

"For one thing, you know a horse coming out of there (Ballydoyle) will know its job."

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