AP McCoy was awarded the Champion Jump Jockey trophy on 25th April 2015 by Arsenal legend Ian Wright at Sandown Park Racecourse amidst emotional scenes and in front a capacity crowd.
To resounding applause from the capacity crowd, chants of “He’s a jolly good fellow” and multiple cheers from the thousands of people on course, the presentation marked the 20th successive year that McCoy has been crowned Champion Jump Jockey. In a show of respect and affection, a guard of honour was created for him by his weighing room colleagues.
Presenting the trophy, Ian Wright said: “AP McCoy is made of something else altogether. For 20 years he has been at the top of his game, riding winners, week in week out. I can think of no other sportsman or woman who can match his record. Like the Arsenal team of 2003/04 he’s proven that he truly is an Invincible. It was an incredible honour to award him with his trophy for the final time on the day he retires.”
McCoy has dominated the sport of jump racing since winning the Conditional jockeys’ title in 1994/95 and was crowned Champion in his first season as a professional jockey. His most successful season came in 2001/02 when he rode 289 winners, beating Sir Gordon Richards’ long-standing British record for most winners ridden in a season by a jockey on the Flat or over Jumps of 269 winners.
McCoy has never not been champion and, in recognition of his total domination of his sport, it was announced that the current Champion Jump Jockey trophy will be retired for him to keep permanently in acknowledgment of his achievements over the past two decades.
Note from Eclipse Magazine photographer Rachel Groom on an AP moment that is typical of McCoy whenever he is out racing, and which we feel sums up the true magic of this champion: “Regarding the picture of him sitting with the young boy, after signing autographs for about 30 minutes he (AP) was whisked away by security but stopped to have his picture taken with this boy who was in a wheelchair. He helped him out, sat with him, chatted and helped him back in.”
Tributes to McCoy as he retires
Stars from the worlds of sport, entertainment and racing came out in force to pay tribute to the greatest jump jockey of all time, AP McCoy on the day that he retired. Leading the tributes were Arsène Wenger, manager of McCoy’s beloved Arsenal, Dame Judi Dench and broadcaster Clare Balding. Quotes courtesy of Great British Racing and Channel 4.
Clare Balding, Television Presenter: “I admire him so much for his skill in the saddle, for his dedication to the sport, for being able to stay at the top of his game for 20 years. But I almost admire him more for turning away now, for being able to bow out at the top, I think that takes so much courage. He knows he could carry on for another five years but he doesn’t want to doubt himself. He knows that if he doubts himself for a second that will travel down the reigns and the horses won’t believe what he’s always believed, that he is the best.”
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal Manager: “I would like to congratulate you AP on your outstanding career. It’s absolutely exceptional what you have done and at Arsenal, who we know you support, we are inspired by that kind of dedication, quality and consistency that you have achieved in your career. Well done.”
Dame Judi Dench, Actress: “A winner. He’s a winner. I can’t imagine how he is going to feel, I must say, retiring from having such a kind of glittering career. He was born to ride a horse, he was born to win too.It’s wonderful to meet him and be able to say to him, you’re a legend.”
Eddie Jordan, BBC Formula 1 presenter: “Tony McCoy, what can I say, you are absolutely beyond any doubt in any sport, a true legend. Absolutely in the top three of the world’s greatest sportsman ever in my opinion. All those wins, those championships, all the people that you’ve ridden with. You’ve actually ridden one of my horses – sadly they weren’t part of that winning 4,000 plus number that you’ve clocked up! But, Tony McCoy you’re a legend”.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal player: “Congratulations on your retirement AP. If anyone deserves it, it’s definitely you. Hopefully, if you’re not riding as much you’ll be able to get to the Emirates more and support the boys.”
Lee McKenzie, BBC Formula 1 Presenter: “It’s been a pleasure to know you, to support you, to work with you and interview you when I was at At The Races. Formula 1 is based on excellence and thousandths of a second but I think in your sport it’s as much about dragging your horse around the racecourse in the 4.20 that just didn’t want to be there. It’s been a real pleasure to have watch you and I don’t think the sport can ever be grateful enough for what you’ve achieved. Thank you so much.”
Sir Tim Rice, Lyricist: “I feel that AP is really in the Don Bradman class and as all cricket lovers will know, Don Bradman was so far ahead of anybody else that records almost became irrelevant, people were chasing to be number two and I think that’s what AP has done in racing.”
Gok Wan, Celebrity Stylist: “I just want to say congratulations on an incredible career. I’ve only known you a short amount of time but you are obviously one of the greatest sportsman that our country has ever seen. I love you.”
Dermot O’Leary, Television Presenter: “When you meet sportsmen you realize they are a sort of breed apart when they’re that successful. It’s a fierce determination when you watch him.”
Jo Brand, Comedian: “Congratulations AP, I’m delighted for you. I’ve never been allowed on a horse for fear of injuring it but I’m so pleased for you because now you’ll be able to have as many dinners as you want – and I recommend 12 in an evening!”
Lee Westwood, Golfer: “I just wanted to congratulate you on what’s been a fantastic career. You’ve had an incredible career, some fantastic wins. I was delighted for you when you won the Grand National. A true legend of the sport.”
Alan Davies, Comedian: “I understand that now you’ve retired you’ve been offered tickets for all the remaining (Arsenal) home games of the season. There’s only three! Which at Arsenal equates to about 4,000 quid so it’s not bad. You’re a legend and good luck.”
Jonjo O’Neill, Trainer: “He’s a brilliant all-rounder. He was the one man out there you didn’t want riding against you. I was lucky to get a lot of use out of him – more than anybody else. He’s fantastic on the lesser horses and he gets just as much of a kick out of winning a selling plate race as he does the Gold Cup. He gives it the same ride, that’s why he’s very special.”
JP McManus, Racehorse Owner and long-standing employer: “I get enormous pleasure from AP riding. If he is on one of my horses then it’s a bonus but if it’s somebody else’s I still get a thrill out of it. We’ve had many great days winning the Grand National and a Gold Cup. There’s never a right time [to retire], but it’s nice that he’s picking a time of his choosing. He’s an ironman and a lovely man. I’ve grown to love him more and more, as my family have. There’s something deep and great about him.”
During his career McCoy achieved unparalleled success cementing his position as the most successful Jump jockey of all time. No other jump jockey has ridden more than 3,000 winners let alone 4,000 and, with 4,348 British and Jumps winners to his name, his feats are unlikely ever to be matched. Having added a 20th successive Champion Jump Jockey title to his name today at Sandown Park, McCoy also became the first jockey to be awarded the Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2010 and has been awarded both an MBE and OBE.
Happy retirement AP!
RACHEL GROOM is Eclipse Magazine’s Photography Editor. Known for her ‘street’ photography she is also an in-house documenter of racing activities at a training yard in Epsom and loves a big day out at the races. You can see more of her work at www.rachelgroom.com