yorkshire racing legends Gerry Scott and Jack Berry were at Catterick to pay tribute to AP McCoy before the jockey marked his retirement with victory aboard the mare Dewala.
“Not only is he the greatest jockey I have seen, but he is done more for any sport than anyone else,” said Scott, who rode Merryman II to Grand National glory in 1960 for Middleham trainer Neville Crump before becoming a widely respected starter.
“There is no one else in sport who gives up so much time for others, whether it be racing charities or his weighing room colleagues. In the 1960s, when Stan Mellor rode his 1,000th winner at Nottingham, we thought it would never be beaten.
“Now AP has ridden more than 4,000 winners.
“They may have been bad starts, but at least I had the honour of starting some of McCoy’s races at the beginning of his career and it was a privilege to speak to him today. He was lovely.
“The great thing about the jumping game is that you never get a big-headed jump jockey.
“He won his 200th race of the season at Newbury on Saturday on Mr Mole and came to grief in the next race at the very first flight.”
His words were shared by retired North Yorkshire trainer Berry, who is the longstanding vice president of the Injured Jockeys Fund which was the beneficiary of £600 when a cardboard cut-out of McCoy was auctioned at Catterick.
“They love AP, don’t they?” remarked Berry as he looked at the crowds craning their necks for a better vantage point around the winner’s enclosure.
Even though Catterick was the venue for Flat jockey Willie Carson’s first winner in 1962, aboard Pinker’s Pond, yesterday’s joyous scenes were said by racegoers to have eclipsed those rare days when the likes of Lester Piggott and Frankie Dettori rode at the track.
“He’s a gentleman. I am very lucky that I have seen AP McCoy and Arkle in my life time. The best jockey and the best racehorse,” added Berry.
As for today, McCoy is in action at Ayr – but admits to having made no decisions about life after racing because it would be remiss to do so while he still had riding duties to fulfil for his owners and trainers.