Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, also known as A.P or Tony, was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1974 and would grow up to become possibly the greatest jumps jockey in the history of horse racing.
Starting out as a flat jockey in Ireland, he rode his first winner at the age of 17 on the Jim Bolger trained ‘Legal Steps’ at Thurles. He would then go on to learn his craft with a stint as stable apprentice for Bolger. After breaking his leg in a fall, he took some time off and when he returned he switched to become a jump jockey due to how tall he had grown during his recovery. This was to be his first step towards a sensational and record-breaking career that would span more than 20 years.
McCoy began riding in England in 1994 and had his first winner in the September of that year, aboard a horse named Chickabiddy. Whilst serving under successful trainer Toby Balding, he was named conditional jump jockey of the year in 1995, before going on to win his first champion jockey title the following season.
Winning that first one in the 1995/96 season was the first of a record 20 consecutive champion jockey titles for McCoy, winning it every year that he was a professional up until his retirement in 2015.
After a successful couple of seasons, he caught the eye of trainer Martin Pipe, who he joined forces with in 1997. That began a partnership that would go on to dominate the sport for many years, until the pair separated unexpectedly in 2004. During his time with Pipe, McCoy would break a long standing record of riding the most winners in a single season with 289 winners during 2001/02.
After the split from Pipe, he was given a reported £1million retainer to ride for Irish racehorse owner J.P McManus. Most of McManus’ horses were trained by former jockey JonJo O’Neill, with whom McCoy would form another successful partnership. It was on the O’Neill trained ‘Don’t Push It’ in 2010 that McCoy would win his first and only Grand National at the 15th attempt.
Thanks to his achievements he has been a man in huge demand from a long list of trainers and during his time with the McManus/O’Neill team he also rode a lot of horses for both Rebecca Curtis and Nicky Henderson. No matter who he rode for though, it is wearing the green and gold hoops of McManus how most people will remember him.
During his long and successful career, Tony McCoy rode a record 4,358 jump winners and nine on the flat. These included 31 winners at the prestigious Cheltenham festival, with two of those being in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, one winner in each of the five major National races and at least one winner in pretty much every big race on the jumps calendar.
Outside of his successes on the racecourse he has also been awarded with several other honours during his career. He became the first jockey to ever win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010 and was given the lifetime achievement award in 2015. In 2013 he was also named R.T.E sports person of the year. The Queen also paid attention to McCoy’s success and awarded him the MBE in her 2003 birthday honours list. Finally, to top it all off, he was knighted for his services to horse racing in the 2016 New Year honours list.
Other than riding winners and picking up awards, McCoy also published four versions of his autobiography. The titles and release dates for these are ‘Real McCoy: My Life So Far’ in 1999, ‘McCoy’ in 2003, ‘A.P. McCoy: My Autobiography’ in 2011 and ‘Winner: My Racing Life’ in 2015. He also had his debut thriller novel published in 2013, titled ‘Taking The Fall’, and that was followed up with ‘Narrowing The Field’ in January 2016. He also became a racing pundit for BBC Radio 5 Live in 2013 and continues as a part of that station to this day.
He called an end to his glittering riding career and retired from horse racing in 2015, riding for the last time in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April that year. He may not be seen riding winners on the course anymore but his reputation and legacy will live on indefinitely.
Sir A.P. McCoy MBE, 20-time champion and multiple record breaking jockey, will go down in the history books as a true great in the sport of horse racing and one that may never be emulated.