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Monday 11 December 2017

Tony McCoy to retire at the end of the season

Tony McCoy on the day he announces his retirement from the saddle at Newbury racecourse on February 07, 2015 in Newbury, England
Tony McCoy on the day he announces his retirement from the saddle at Newbury racecourse on February 07, 2015 in Newbury, England

Tony McCoy stunned the racing world today as he announced he is to retire from racing at the end of the season.

 

Just minutes after Mr Mole gave McCoy his 200th winner of the season as Sire De Grugy unseated three out in an incident-packed Betfair Price Rush Chase at Newbury. the champion jockey told Channel 4 Racing of his intention to stop riding.

Not seen since following up his Champion Chase success at Sandown last April, the Gary Moore-trained Sire De Grugy was sent off at odds-on but made a bad mistake four from home before parting company with Jamie Moore at the next.

That left a simple task for Mr Mole, who will test his credentials at the top level in the two-mile championship next month.

All that was overshadowed, however, when 40-year-old McCoy revealed his retirement plan.

"It's going to be the last time I ride 200 winners," he said.

"Having spoken to Dave (Roberts, agent) and JP McManus (retaining owner), I am going to be retiring at the end of the season."

McCoy, who is 79 wins ahead of nearest rival Richard Johnson this season, continued: "I want to go out at the top, I want to go out as champion jockey and it will be my 20th year if I can win the jockeys' championship.

"I want to go out while I still enjoy riding and am still relatively at the top.

"Dave Roberts and JP McManus were the only ones who knew, I got Dave to my house and Chanelle (McCoy's wife) didn't even know what the conversation was going to be about.

"We decided that the right thing to do was to retire at the end of the season, but to announce it before the end of the season.

"We thought that to ride 200 winners was a good achievement and a good time to announce it.

"Dave and JP thought it would be a good idea to announce before I just give up.

"It will be business as usual until the end of the season and I will let myself enjoy it more."

Mrs McCoy said: "It's a decision he's battled with very much, some days he's at peace with it and some days he's sad. It will be great for him to go out on a high and hopefully we will get him out in one piece."

She went on: "It's a very big decision and a decision like that he has to live with, so he has to make it himself.

"He knew my preference for him to retire at the end of the season, but I never pushed him. He's very much his own man and he makes up his own mind."

Winner of virtually every big prize there is in racing, including the Grand National, Gold Cup, Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle, McCoy said that "time waits for no man in sport".

He said: "I have been very lucky to have a great way of life for the last 25 years.

"It was something that was always in the back of my mind, I wanted to retire while I was champion jockey and I thought 20 championships was a good number. Time waits for no man in sport. It's not going to wait for me.

"I think all of the decisions in my life I have made myself, I'm lucky that I've had really good people to bounce things off.

"I think to become a jockey was the best decision I made. I've had a great way of life.

"My mum and dad have no idea, I think they wanted me to retire so I thought they'd get more satisfaction hearing about it on the television.

"I love riding and the thrill of it, it's what has challenged me for the last 25 years so I will miss it.

"I'll never find anything that will replace that buzz, but I'm aware in sport that you can't go on forever.

"There's so many people to thank - my mum and dad, the late Billy Rock, the late Toby Balding and his wife, Jim Bolger, JP and Noreen (McManus) have been fantastic.

"All the horses, the stable lads, all the ambulance drivers and the doctors that have picked me up so many times over the years.

"The lads in the weighing room who have been great colleagues, the lads that have driven me around the country and the valets that have looked after me every day.

"There's so many people for me to thank, and obviously Dave Roberts who has been with me from the day I've been here. A lot of people have made it possible."

Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: "You have to be very proud of him, he's been a great man to work with and we've had a great time together. It's always sad when it comes, but that's part of it and I hope now he stays in one piece and goes out at the top.

"He didn't say much about it, he'd be making up his own mind - I'm sure him and the boss had discussions and it's always difficult when things are going well. He's been fantastic and it will have been a tough decision.

"He's been having a fantastic season and it's always difficult when things are going well. Like everything, things come to an end.

"He has been a great ambassador for us and the sport of racing, he's very kind to people.

"You couldn't say enough good things about him."

Asked about a possible replacement in the role of number one to McManus, Berry said: "It's only landed on us this week, everything is up in the air."

McCoy said: "I want to go out at the top, I want to go out as champion jockey and it will be my 20th year if I can win the jockeys' championship.

"I want to go out while I still enjoy riding and am still relatively at the top."

His wife Chanelle said: "It's a decision he's battled with very much, some days he's at peace with it and some days he's sad. It will be great for him to go out on a high and hopefully we will get him out in one piece."

She added: "It's a very big decision and a decision like that he has to live with, so he has to make it himself.

"He knew my preference for him to retire at the end of the season, but I never pushed him. He's very much his own man and he makes up his own mind."

Richard Johnson has long had to play second-fiddle to McCoy in the jockeys' championship, and he said: "It wasn't the biggest shock in the world I suppose, but it's more set in concrete now.

"There'll be a few people relieved and will have a few more chances, but it's a great loss to lose him from the weighing room.

"We all know we'll get to that point sometime. It will be an even bigger shock after Sandown (the end of the season) I suppose, but I'm sure we'll still see him around the racecourse and his achievements will live on for a long time."

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls said: "It's a pleasure to have had anything to do with him and it was a peach of a ride he gave Mr Mole.

"He's been a great ambassador for the sport and no one can say enough about him.

"It doesn't surprise me totally as one day you have to make a decision. He's probably decided that's the right one, and everyone knows where they are.

"Everyone will miss him riding as he's been such a legend, but you can't go on forever.

"He's still riding as well as he's ever ridden and it's probably the right time to go out.

"Toby Balding once told me to use him as claimer, that he was the best he ever had. I always remember those words.

"We didn't have enough horses to keep him at the time and he went and rode all those winners for Martin Pipe. He's just been fantastic.

"He's a great guy to deal with and a brilliant jockey."

McCoy's next ride after Mr Mole ended in a fall at the first from Goodwood Mirage, after which he walked away unscathed.

He will always be associated with former champion trainer Martin Pipe, with the pair teaming up for many famous days.

Pipe said: "What a shock. I just said to him 'about time!'.

"He's been an absolute legend for racing, he'll never be surpassed in anyone's lifetime. He's the best we've ever seen.

"His dedication to winning, it's what it's all about. He's just so thorough and so competitive.

"We had a great time together, there's so many great moments - Unsinkable Boxer and all the winners he's ridden."

Top Irish rider Paul Townend said: "All good things have to come to an end, but he's an incredible man. He's definitely someone for us all to look up to. He is a great role model."

Fellow jockey Tom O'Brien said: "All I can say it's been a privilege to have ridden with him.

"He's the best sportsman in the world, in my opinion."

Trainer Henry Daly said: "He's a truly remarkable man and it's the end of an amazing era.

"I'm delighted and hopefully he's retiring hopefully in much as one piece as he can be after 20 years."

McCoy's great rival Ruby Walsh paid immediate tribute to his close friend.

He said: "The biggest decisions are the hardest decisions, and AP is the biggest man who had to do it.

"It is wonderful that you could have the career AP has had, but it was a big call and only he could have known that the time was right.

"He is the consummate professional and has done everything that is good for racing.

"It will be a strange old place without him being part of it."

Trainer Philip Hobbs said: "Very few jockeys ride 20 seasons, let alone win the championship 20 times. It's been great having him around, but it will be a big loss to racing when he goes."

Dominant Irish trainer Willie Mullins told At The Races: "We might have been expecting this the last three years, I'm shocked it hasn't happened until now, really.

"He's an iron man and obviously enjoys it and I'm happy for him that he has retired on his own terms.

"He can get on with enjoying the rest of the season."

McCoy rides for Mullins at Leopardstown on Sunday when he partners Cheltenham gamble Alvisio Ville in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle, and he added: "He's looks a real better than average horse."

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