On a miserable day at Plumpton in February 2009, Tony McCoy rode his 3000th winner aboard a horse called Restless D’Artaix. He is now set himself the goal of reaching 4000. Assuming he stays fit, you would not bet against him reaching that milestone.
McCoy is the consummate professional, and is well respected with the national hunt fraternity. However, in his autobiography, ghostwritten by racing journalist Donn McClean, his humility shines through. He admits that there are more stylish jockeys than him in the weigh-room, and that his pursuit of winners made him a control freak and a bully.
On one occasion, he chastised his then girlfriend, now wife Chanelle, for having a cigarette at a party. The incident nearly ended the relationship, with McCoy asking her to pack her things, before driving her to the train station. Leaving her all alone and clearly upset on the platform, he felt he had made his point about smoking.
He subsequently drove back to station and brought her home. A sense of guilt brought on the request for a second chance, but Chanelle was having none of it and sought the views of her pals, and eventually her father as to whether she should move on. With much soul searching, she made a decision that in time saw the couple marry in 2006 and they now have a daughter Eve.
Fans of a racing will no doubt find much to enjoy in this read, with McCoy recalling many of his famous wins, and how he managed to beat Gordon Richard’s record of 269 wins in a season. He gives a character study of some of the trainers he has ridden for, most notably Jim Bolger and Martin Pipe. The strict regime of the former and the unique methods of the latter provide an interesting insight into the profession.
The decision to leave the Pipe operation and join Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle, with JP McManus providing the financial backing, was perhaps the most difficult decision of McCoy’s career. Like any driven sportsperson, the Co Antrim jockey felt he needed a different challenge – there is always another summit to climb.
Jump racing is a dangerous profession and McCoy has suffered his fair share of injuries of injuries. One chapter deals with how he undertook cryotherapy to make sure he was fit for the Cheltenham Festival. He exposed his body to a temperature of minus 150 degrees, something that had not being done before. The record cold left severe burns on his body, but he was fit to ride at Prestbury Park.
Tony McCoy, or Anthony as he is known by his family, or A.P by his colleagues in the weigh-room, has been British champion jockey 16 times and in 2010 he finally won the Aintree Grand National. His victory aboard Don’t Push It was another fairytale chapter in the famous race, and McCoy’s exploits saw his named BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year.
His autobiography makes for a compelling read, as one man defiantly battles through the pain barrier, to do what he loves doing. And while a theme of not being beaten rather than winning is often the drive that keeps McCoy going, it is nice to see that as the years pass by the guy has mellowed somewhat. He has set records that may never be broken.