Tony McCoy rides his 4,000th winner
Champion jockey breaks new ground at Towcester aboard JP McManus’s Mountain Tunes
Tony McCoy on Mountain Tunes wins The Weatherbys Novices Hurdle Race at Towcester, his 4,000th career win. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Tony McCoy finally reached his target of 4,000 jump racing winners at Towcester on Thursday when Mountain Tunes won the Weatherbys Novice Hurdle at the crowded Northamptonshire track under a remarkable ride from the multiple champion jockey.
The jockey reached the milestone, as he had fervently wished to do so, in the colours of his employer JP McManus but for most of the home straight it looked an impossible task.
McCoy’s mount, who went off the 6-4 favourite, was back in third and looked to be struggling but the rider never gave up and galvanised his mount to get the better of his rivals and catch Kris Spin in the closing stages.
The winning rider said: “It was just amazing, it couldn’t have worked out any better. To do it for (trainer) Jonjo (O’Neill) and the McManus’s is brilliant as they’ve been so good to me. It was always hopefully going to be in JP’s colours.
“To have Chanelle (Wife), Eve and Archie (children) here is great and to do it in the McManus silks means a lot - Eve thinks they belong to me!
“My agent, Dave Roberts, is here. His dad sadly passed away yesterday and he said to me this morning, his dad would really want him to be here, so I feel as much I’ve done it to make him happier, or Dave’s dad’s been looking down. That makes the day very special.
“I’m very lucky, I work in a great sport, I’ve got lots of support, I work for great people. You only have to look at the amount of people that have come out day to support it. I feel very humbled by it. I don’t feel like I’m any different to anyone else and I would hope the lads in the weighing room don’t think I think I’m any diffferent from any of the rest of them.
“Sadly, I’ve ridden 4,000 winers now, I’m going to have to try and ride a few more. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved because it’s a tough sport. I’ve been able to last is something I’m very lucky to have been able to do, something I’m very proud of being able to do.
“You’ve just got to get on with it now. It’s over, tomorrow I’ll be back in the weighing room. Someone said to me in the weighing room, I should be riding 5,000 winners, not 4,000. You can never keep some people happy. I’m probably no different from he is.
“Obviously, it’s great to ride 4,000 winners but he’s a young horse. Sometimes you’ve got to do what’s right by a young horse. I felt like he was a little bit inexperienced and the race got away from him a little bit at the third-last. Horses always tend to enjoy what they do when they’re finishing well and he certainly was finishing well. It was like he got the hang of things.
“Jonjo told me to ride him like a nice horse and to be nice and patient on him and not to worry about everyone else watching.”
McCoy has been the focus of media attention for the best part of a week but a winner at Chepstow on Wednesday, where he was a late replacement for the original rider, had left him needing just the one success to complete the task.
Earlier, the jockey had finished only fifth on the Jonjo O’Neill-trained 3-1 favourite Church Field in the Agetur UK Handicap Hurdle.
McCoy positioned his mount just on the heels of the leaders and appeared to be travelling as well as any of his rivals leaving the back straight. However, the 39-year-old rider got to work once straightened up for home and Church Field was unable to close on the leaders, eventually passing the post a well-beaten fifth. Victory went to Jim Old’s 7-1 shot Valid Point, partnered by Jason Maguire.
McCoy reported: “The handicapper probably has him where he wants him, really. That’s what his last few runs would have suggested. He ran a good race. Couldn’t fault him, he tried his hardest. That’s pretty much the way he ran the last couple of times.”
In response to whether he had been thinking about his all-important target during the race, the jockey replied: “Not really, I have other things to be thinking about than worrying about you.”
He added: “He was going quite well but Towcester’s a fairly demanding track and it was always going to be tough for him to keep going but I had a good ride off him and obviously at that point, three out, I thought that he had a chance of winning. We’ll have another go in an hour’s time and hopefully it’ll all go better.
“Look, I’m surprised, I didn’t think that many people were that interested in what I’m doing but it’s nice. Hopefully, it’s good for racing. I’m in a very privileged position and it won’t be too long before no one will want to know what I’m doing, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.”
Bookmakers are offering odds on McCoy now reaching the 5,000-winner mark with Ladbrokes making that bid a 6-1 chance while Paddy Power are more generous with 10-1 available.
In the immediate future, the rider has gone on record to state that he would be keen to beat the record of 4,182 winners trained by Martin Pipe, with whom he had a long and successful association.