Horse racing exclusive: Sir Alex Ferguson on AP McCoy’s retirement

AP McCoy acknowledges the cheers of the crowd as he enters the parade ring aboard Carlingford Lough after winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown yesterday. On Saturday, he announced he is to retire in April (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA).
AP McCoy acknowledges the cheers of the crowd as he enters the parade ring aboard Carlingford Lough after winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown yesterday. On Saturday, he announced he is to retire in April (Picture: Brian Lawless/PA).
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RACING record-breaker AP McCoy heads to North Yorkshire today for the next leg of his retirement farewell buoyed by another big race win – and the ringing endorsement of legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

The former Manchester United boss said the unequalled accomplishments of the soon-to-be 20-times champion jockey “will be forged on our memory as long as we can all remember”.

Today’s two rides at Catterick aboard Dewala and Red Devil Boys will be 40-year-old McCoy’s first in Britain since he marked his 200th win of the current campaign at Newbury on Saturday by announcing his intention to retire before the end of the season in April.

A rider who has broken as many bones as records, he was mobbed at Leopardstown yesterday by wellwishers before recording high-profile successes aboard Sort It Out and then Carlingford Lough in the Grade One Hennessy Gold Cup. Winner 4,324 of McCoy’s career, it was the champion’s first success in Ireland’s premier steeplechase and the JP McManus-owned victor appears bound for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex spoke of his relief that McCoy was retiring on his own terms, and at the peak of his powers.

“I am pleased that Tony has picked his moment to decide when it is right for him to retire,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“Only people who have had to live with great expectations can understand why they should go out at the top. That expectation is indescribable, losing was never an option for Tony. Only winning mattered.

“It drove him through injury after injury on the quest to be the best ever. As he approaches the winning post in his career, he goes with the best accolade and that is the success never changed him. I believe that only true champions understand the value of humility and that is what stands out in the character of Tony McCoy. He has always kept his feet on the ground; his feats in becoming the greatest National Hunt jockey of all time will be forged on our memory as long as we can all remember. Well done.”