THE indestructible AP McCoy’s reaction after securing his landmark 4,000th win was so typical of the iron man of jump racing – a rare smile, a flick of his whip in recognition of the cheering crowds and the promise of even further success.
How apt that the 39-year-old should reach of the most momentous milestone of his record-breaking career by digging deep on Mountain Tunes and conjuring a swashbuckling, winning run from a seemingly hopeless position at Towcester in a modest hurdle race, the type of success which explains why he has become one of Britain’s greatest ever sporting competitors.
And how typical of the 18-time champion jockey that he should downplay his own accomplishment – he is the first National Hunt jockey to reach this previously unconquered summit – by dedicating this success to his longstanding agent Dave Roberts, whose father had died 24 hours earlier.
As McCoy was sprayed with Champagne, he was joined by his young family in the winner’s enclosure as many of the elated 4,000 racegoers enjoyed free drinks paid for by the horse’s elated owner JP McManus.
The “humbled” jockey then spoke of his appreciation at the support he had received.
“I’m very lucky I work in a great sport,” he said. “I get lots of support and work for great people. You only have to look at the amount of people who have come out today and supported me. I feel very humbled by it.
“I don’t feel I’m any different to anyone else. I hope everyone in the weighing room doesn’t think I am any different – I’ve ridden 4,000 winners. I’ll try to ride a few more. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and being able to last, one way or another. I’m lucky and proud to have done it.”
As for the history-making race, one of the most miraculous in a brilliant career, he added: “To do it for Jonjo and the McManus’s is brilliant. It was always hopefully going to be in JP’s colours.”
McManus, who immediately embraced McCoy when he dismounted, said: “What a man and what a ride. I think he was more pleased because when he came in he said it was a nice horse! It was nice that he wanted it (4,000th winner) to be in my colours, I’m choked that he did.”
Watching spectators included McCoy’s wife Chanelle and the couple’s two young children. “Our hearts were in our mouths, we’d given up – it was a typical AP ride, definitely,” she said.
McCoy, due to ride Forthefunofit in the last at Southwell today, continues to defy horse racing with his ability to withstand serious injury.
When he suffered a bone-crunching fall that fractured vertebrae in his back five years ago, he braved temperatures of minus 149C in an ice chamber so he could be fit for the Cheltenham Festival, where he won on Albertas Run.
Record will never be broken: Page 21.
Comment: Page 12.