Horse Racing to Bid Farewell to Record-Breaking Jockey Tony McCoy
After nearly 4,350 winners, more than 1,000 falls, 20 straight jockey titles and countless broken bones, Tony McCoy will end his record-shattering career on the aptly named Box Office on Saturday.
There are sure to be emotional scenes at Sandown — a racecourse just outside London — as British horse racing bids farewell to its greatest jumps jockey, who is dreading the moment he puts his silks away for the final time.
"I wish I could do it for another 20 years, that's for sure," McCoy said ahead of his final day in the saddle.
McCoy's announcement in February that he would be ending his 20-year career as a jockey has led to an outpouring from the British public — and no doubt some relief among his fellow riders who have lived in McCoy's shadow for the past two decades.
Sandown will have 18,000 spectators and is sold out for the first time in a decade. Officials are putting on special trains from London to cope with the demand.
McCoy has been champion jockey in Britain every season since 1996 — his first year as a professional. He has won every big British race at least once, including the Grand National in 2010 in his 15th attempt, and rewritten virtually every record in the book.
The previous all-time record of winners belonged to Richard Dunwoody with 1,699. McCoy surpassed that in 2002 and his total currently stands at 4,348. He has ridden 200 winners in a season on nine occasions.
McCoy — also known as AP — is going out at the top, too, and will collect his latest jockey title from former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, one of the greatest footballers to have played for McCoy's favorite team.
"AP is getting out at the right time. He is on top of his game and everybody will remember him as the greatest jockey," said Jonjo O'Neill, the trainer of many of McCoy's winners.
One person who won't be sad to see McCoy leave racing is his wife, Chanelle. She can no longer bear to watch her husband go to work, as she puts it, "with an ambulance following behind him."
Most of McCoy's teeth are chipped or are replacements. He has suffered punctured lungs. He has broken his leg, ankle, thumb, lower and middle vertebrae, ribs, wrist, arm, shoulder blades, collarbones and cheekbones.
Such is McCoy's inner will and determination that last year he did push-ups after breaking and dislocating his collarbone in a fall to show the doctors it wasn't sore. This came as he tried to complete his long-held aim of riding 300 winners in a season, something he regrets he never achieved.
"Since he made the (retirement) announcement, it has been a huge sense of relief for me," Chanelle said Sunday. "There's a week to go to get him out in one piece."
McCoy is scheduled to have two rides on Saturday — Mr Mole in his final Grade One race, which has been named the AP McCoy Celebration Chase. He will stay in his customary green and yellow silks of retained owner JP McManus to ride Box Office. By 4.30 p.m. local time, McCoy's career will be over.
"I am looking forward to certain things," McCoy said. "Having breakfast every day and not standing on a weighing scales every day. Not getting in the car some days for seven or eight hours regularly, a couple of times a week. Not spending seven days a week literally travelling. Things like that, I'm not going to miss."
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