The greatest sportsman ever is about to retire and he can be backed at 6/1 to be awarded a knighthood in January 2016. The AP show is coming to a racecourse near you and it would be sacrilege if you are a racing fan not to pay homage to the real McCoy. Everybody’s favourite Tony will be riding in races no more but one major bookie has odds that he will return to the track next year.
Tony McCoy is the only jockey to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and he is now the favourite to win the prize again in December after announcing he is to retire from the sport at the end of the current jumps season. Richard Johnson and Barry Geraghty are two of his best friends but both jockeys have slightly more reasons to celebrate when their pal hangs up his boots.
McCoy has been the champion jockey for the last 19 years and is set to make it 20 before leaving the sport as a rider. After notching his 200th winner of the season at Newbury he announced live on Channel 4 that this was the last time he would reach a double century of winners. The most remarkable sporting career of all time is coming to an end. A ten-week farewell tour has begun and then Tony will have gone.
The modest man from County Antrim has won countless awards and accolades but the honours he received in December 2013 made that a special month for the most special of men. He was officially recognised for breaking three world records, namely for riding 289 winners in one season, the most champion jockey jumps titles and the most career wins. McCoy was given an MBE in 2003 and an OBE in 2010 for his services to horse racing.
At the time of writing McCoy had ridden more than 4,300 winners in Britain and Ireland. One of the greatest sporting legacies of all-time will conclude at the end of the season in April. Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher have dominated their sport but not for 20 years and always the champion over that spell of time. Tony McCoy is the best sportsmen ever not just on numbers but also based on his overall contribution to his sport. If he played a global sport that claim could not be disputed but his sport is a minority activity compared to football, golf and tennis.
National Hunt jockeys are in the only profession in which two ambulances follow them as they go about their daily business. About one in ten rides end with a fall which at any time could end a career. McCoy’s obsession with riding winners has given him a pain threshold that is unimaginable for more mere mortals. Family life has tempered the extremes of his ambition but McCoy will still do just about anything to ride a winner.
McCoy is first jockey to JP McManus and if the betting is correct Barry Geraghty will assume the role next season. McManus has a string of about 300 horses that race in Britain and Ireland and was the leading owner last season. Geraghty rode Jezki and More Of That in wins at last year’s Cheltenham Festival when McCoy chose other horses in the same ownership. He also picked up the winning ride on Shutthefrontdoor in last year’s Irish Grand National.
Despite trading at long odds-on to get the McManus job the issue is complicated by the fact that Geraghty is first jockey to Nicky Henderson who has the second best string in Britain after Paul Nicholls. The jockey would also have to spend more time on the mainland which would not be ideal for a family man with young children. There is a possability McManus may not employ one jockey exclusively but will cherry pick when the need arises.
One live outsider to get the job is Tom Scudamore who John Francome believes has all the right attributes to be successful in such a high profile role. McManus head hunted McCoy in 2004 when he was associated with the Pipe yard and Scudamore is the stable jockey for David. Scudamore would have no conflict of interests with the Henderson and Nicholls operations and would leave the Pipes with the blessing of that family.
Richard Johnson will also benefit from the retirement of McCoy as surely he will win the jockey’s championship for the first time next year. He has been second to McCoy for the last 15 years and now has a great opportunity to win the title he craves so much. In any other era he would been a multiple champion but never got close to beating McCoy who consistently has booted in around 200 winners for the last 20 years.
In 2003 Johnson became just the eighth National Hunt jockey to ride 1,000 winners and reached 2,000 winners in 2009. Only McCoy has rode more winners over jumps in Britain and Johnson is a clear second in the historical standings. He has won all four major championship races at Cheltenham but the jockey’s title is a glaring missing honour on his CV. Johnson is the retained rider for Philip Hobbs but Sam Twiston-Davies has the ammunition in terms of big race contenders and numbers as Nicholls’s stable jockey to challenge Johnson next season.
McCoy is one of a few people involved in racing to be known by the general public and not just the racing fraternity. Frankie Dettori has the same impact as a Flat jockey but McCoy could surpass him in terms of recognition from the non-racing groups. In the context of the BBC award McCoy is at a disadvantage as the major races are now shown exclusively on Channel 4. Achievements in other sports nearer the time will make McCoy’s job of being honoured by the BBC in December difficult especially as he takes part in a minority sport.
Honours and accolades are all well and good but McCoy can retire knowing his records will never be beaten and for that reason he can rightly be called the best sportsman that has ever lived.