Tributes paid to Irish jockey Tony McCoy

Leading personalities from the world of racing laud Antrim man records 4,000th win of his career

Thu, Nov 7, 2013, 18:29

Richard Johnson, only other rider to have ridden over 2,500 jumps winners and 14-times runner-up to McCoy in the jockeys’ championship

“It’s an amazing achievement. What he’d already done was phenomenal. He doesn’t relent at all. He’s as keen now as he was when he first came over from Ireland. What he has achieved in the last 15 to 20 years is incredible. He has changed riding, especially in the National Hunt field, and moved it forward. It’s been a pleasure to ride with him and you’d struggle to find a nicer person to work with, either, on a day-to-day basis. He’s as hungry as he’s ever been, but he’s a gentleman as well. He’s got time for the youngsters coming through as much as anybody else, which is a great trait. He’s been fantastic for the sport and I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere for a while yet. We all want to win every race and he’s just as keen as anyone, even after all the success he’s had. For me his hunger is as great now as it’s ever been. He’s very fair and doesn’t expect special treatment off anyone.”

Martin Pipe, 15-times champion jumps trainer and McCoy’s boss for many years

“I’m sure he rode over 1,000 winners for me. It’s absolutely amazing. AP is just absolutely phenomenal. Always Perfect — his two initials. He’s absolutely incredible. Not only is he a great friend, he’s a brilliant jockey and a brilliant role model for the young jockeys to follow. He’s totally dedicated to the sport and gives every horse, whatever grade it’s in be it a seller or a Gold Cup, the same ride — he’s so determined to succeed. He’s unparalleled in the history of racing. He’s such a lovely person with it. He was voted Sports Personality of the Year and quite rightly so. He’s done a lot for our sport and we’re all very proud of him and very proud of what he has achieved. He has beaten my record. I only had 3,929 jumps winners, so congratulations to him. I had Flat winners as well to make it a bit higher (4,182). He’s a fantastic, amazing guy and so dedicated. He’s had plenty of injuries along the way. He’s so determined, focussed and concentrated. I remember one day ages ago, he came off on the bend at Chepstow. He was stretchered off and I thought ‘oh dear I’ve got to find another jockey’. I thought he won’t ride again today. I ran down and he said he would ride it. It was two races later, he did and came out and won. He is made of steel and a lovely guy with it. He’s so good with the kids at the races wanting his autograph and anyone basically who wants to talk to him. He has time for everyone in racing.”

Jonjo O’Neill, trainer

“It’s just amazing. You can’t put words to it, but the man is fantastic. He’s a fantastic man and a fantastic jockey. Old horses, young horses, monkeys. You name it, he can win on it, that’s the fantastic thing about him — it doesn’t matter what it is he just wants to ride winners. I’m just very lucky to be in the position where I get to use him most of the time. He gives great feedback to owners. We’re blessed to be around him. I can’t finds words to describe the fella. I’m just so pleased to have him.”

Frankie Dettori, three times champion jockey on the Flat

“AP is the leading rider of a generation and perhaps every generation to come. His will to win is unsurpassed and his spirit is unquenchable. What is more amazing is that he has time for everyone and is a genuinely good guy.”

Peter Scudamore, eight-times champion jumps jockey

“Quite extraordinary. I didn’t think it was humanly possible to do what he’s done. He’s been a fine example to us all. What he’s done is unbelievable.”

Noel Chance, trainer of McCoy’s first Gold Cup winner Mr Mulligan

“It’s mind-boggling what he’s achieved. I know records are there to be broken, but I know I won’t see it in my lifetime and I’m not sure my grandchildren will see it in theirs — that a jockey will surpass the number of winners he has. There are two main things about Tony McCoy. One is his great talent and passion for the game and secondly he’s such a great human being. No matter what you ask Tony to do for you it was never a problem, he would do it. He is also a great judge. I remember when he picked himself up after a fall from Mr Mulligan round Kempton (in the 1996 King George VI Chase). He said ‘this horse will win the Gold Cup and I’ll ride him’. He did start to have second thoughts a few weeks before the race when the horse was lethargic to say the least, but he stuck by it and the rest is history.”

Barry Geraghty, jockey

“His drive day-to-day and his attitude are unbelievable. To get to 4,000 is some achievement. It doesn’t matter if it’s Cheltenham or Kelso his determination is the same, and his ability in the saddle goes without saying. Brave Inca’s win in the Champion Hurdle was AP at his best but there are so many. Albertas Run in the Ryanair of 2011 was another great ride, although I just got the better of him the following year on Riverside Theatre! We’ve had some great clashes down the years. He’s a hard man to get past, and likewise he’s the last person you want challenging you in a finish.”

Paul Nicholls, multiple champion jumps trainer

“To get to 4,000 winners is a massive achievement and it’s richly deserved. Nobody deserves it more than he does. “He puts a lot of effort into everything he does, he’s a brilliant jockey and a great man. I can’t say enough about him.”


David Bridgwater, trainer and former Martin Pipe stable jockey 
“The man is just phenomenal. As a former jockey I know how difficult it is to ride winners. People who have never ridden before think he’s amazing, but really, they don’t have a clue. Basically, he makes every other jockey that has ever worn a set of silks look like a bloody idiot. He’s amazing.”  
Colm Murphy, trainer of McCoy’s second Champion Hurdle winner Brave Inca 
“What can you say about the man that hasn’t already been said? He’s just absolutely phenomenal and words don’t do him justice. To be doing what he’s been doing day in day out for god knows how many years and achieve what he’s achieved is incredible really. He’s been very lucky for us. Not just with Brave Inca but with every horse he’s ridden. He built up a great relationship with Inca, which was great. We were so lucky to have him and I’ve no doubt the horse wouldn’t have achieved as much as he did if we didn’t have AP on our side.”  
Gary Moore, trainer and father of top Flat jockey Ryan Moore 
“It’s his incredible hunger that sets him aside from everybody else. He’s nearly 40 yet he goes to places like Plumpton for just one ride, I know he has to for his boss, but you would think he couldn’t be bothered, especially because a lot of the time it’s just for run-of-the-mill horses. I know it’s slightly different but Ryan (Moore) wouldn’t do things like that to ride the equivalent of those horses. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do next by the sounds of it so while he’s still riding well and booting home winners, why should he stop? It’s not as if he’s getting beaten and people are saying ‘he’d have won on that a few years ago’. The man is pure genius.”  
Andrew Thornton — weighing room veteran and Gold Cup-winning jockey 
“He’s got there quicker than people thought he would. We both started at very similar times and he’s always had a phenomenal drive. You’ve got to admire his daily determination and will to win. He appreciates every winner he gets more now. From riding in races with him over the years, he probably makes less noise in a race. If you ask for a bit of daylight he will give you it, not a problem. He always seems to have loads of time on a horse. Going round in a race between fences you can have a chat. He always seems to have so much time. What sets him apart is that he’s so aware of what’s going on around him. He’s very relaxed in a race until it comes down to the business end. He transmits that to the horse and he’s always full of confidence. He’s one of the most mild-mannered people you’d wish to meet, very unassuming. You won’t see this record broken again. You can’t see somebody else riding consistently 200 winners a season.”  
Sir Mark Prescott, top Flat trainer and ex-jockey 
“It’s staggering, absolutely staggering, and how unlucky can any man be to be Richard Johnson. You’d have thought the fella would get injured one year and you’d win it, but it was Johnson who got injured. He is the most remarkable man. I had a short riding career and Fred Winter famously said jockeys only ride for five seasons and after that they just go round, meaning they save themselves. Jockeys are so much fitter than in my day. In my day it was their second job. They were farmers and had other things to do. The professionalism of today among National Hunt jockeys is just incredible. It’s a completely different era and he is just the most extraordinary man.”  
Bruce Raymond — Rabbah Bloodstock racing manager and former Flat jockey 
“What can you say about him? He’s the best of all time. Jockeys like Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery and Ryan Moore were all great champions, but this guy is a superstar. He is probably the best jockey of all time — Flat or National Hunt.”