Celebrations begin after Tony McCoy reaches 4,000 wins at TowcesterPICTURE: RP GRAPHICS
McCoy eyes new targets as he hits magic 4,000
TONY McCOY, the most successful jump jockey of all time, immediately nominated fresh targets having reached the most momentous milestone of an extraordinary career at Towcester on Thursday as he rode his 4,000th jumps winner in Britain and Ireland.
The 18-time champion jockey, widely known by his initials AP or the nickname the Champ, achieved the feat on Mountain Tunes, fittingly trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by JP McManus, his two closest racing allies during the past decade.
McCoy's often hectic riding schedule has been noticeably lighter than it could have been the past three days, reflecting his determination that his landmark winner should come in McManus's famous green and gold silks.
A delighted McCoy was led back to huge cheers from a crowd of six or seven deep after crossing the line first on Mountain Tunes.
After the congratulations had died down, McCoy said: "The next target is hopefully to end the season as champion jockey which it is at the beginning of every season.
"If I'm still in one piece to get to Martin (Pipe's) record (0f 4,182) that would be a special achievement because he's a fantastic man and a great friend, we've had a bit of banter about it, so hopefully at some point I will be able to maybe get close to his record, if not beat it."
The victory on Mountain Tunes exhibited McCoy's never-say-die attitude as the combination looked beaten approaching the last until the champion pushed and shoved the winner back into contention, and on to that famous victory.
"It was typical AP," said the rider's wife Chanelle.
McCoy was treated to three cheers from racegoers before being sprayed with champagne. He posed for photographs with Chanelle and their children Eve and Archie Peader before remembering one vital job - to weigh in.
He said: "It's amazing and it couldn't have happened any better.
"Obviously for Jonjo and for JP and with Chanelle, Eve and Archie Peadar here which is very important.
"Everyone in racing has been fantastic. Dave Roberts has been my agent since day one and his dad sadly passed away yesterday, and for that I'd like to dedicate this to Dave's dad."
McCoy, 39, had inched towards the remarkable total over the last few days, winning two races on Monday to take his tally to 3,998, and one on Wednesday to set up a dramatic climax at Towcester.
McManus said: "I remember when AP came to the UK first, [trainer] Christy Roche brought him to my attention and he said, 'This AP he's getting 7lb, he should be giving weight away!'
"Little did we think that day that he would ride 4,000 winners or that anybody else would. Full marks to him, he's a credit to the game, it's a pleasure to have him around and every day with him is a most enjoyable day.
"I think the racing people are a closely knit community as is evidenced by recent events and AP is behind everything that is good and I am just so proud and pleased that I know him, and his family, and long may be continue.
"That was very nice [to win in my colours]. I was away last week and I was hoping I was going to be here to see it. Anyway it was very nice that he waited to ride one of mine and I'm chuffed that he did, and I'm sure it won't stop here."
O'Neill concurred with McManus that the end is far from nigh for McCoy the jockey.
"He's riding better than ever and enjoying it more than ever," said O'Neill, "why would he even think of retiring?"
"It was great to get it for him and it's a relief," the trainer added. "The winner's a nice horse, he was green early but I was pleased with how he travelled. Whether he was going to be good enough from the second last was another matter."
Chanelle McCoy dubbed the 4,000th win "a massive relief".
She added: "He really made me scream for it, I really thought he was beat. I was just afraid he'd fall off and injure himself so close to achieving something amazing.
"You couldn't script it better, it's beautiful weather, his family are here, Mr McManus and Jonjo, they are just the most amazing trio."
When asked if McCoy would be taking Friday off she replied: "I doubt it, you know what he's like, the total professional."
Northern Irish-born McCoy won his first race over jumps at Gowran Park on April 20, 1994, riding Riszard. His first British winner came later the same year, on Chickabiddy at Exeter on September 7, 1994.
He was champion conditional rider in the 1994-95 season and the first of his 18 championships followed in the 1995-96 season. Soon after he began a dominant partnership with the then champion trainer Martin Pipe.
McCoy was awarded an MBE in 2003, an OBE in 2010, and in the same year he became the first jockey to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award.
Calls for the perennial champion to be awarded a knighthood are sure to follow in the wake of the latest achievement of a jockey whose career, for its longevity and dominance, has precious few equals in sporting history.