Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, OBE (born 4 May 1974), commonly known as AP McCoy or Tony McCoy, is a Northern Irish former horse racing jockey. Based in Ireland and the UK, McCoy rode a record 4,358 winners, and was Champion Jockey a record 20 consecutive times, every year he was a professional. He stands 1.78 m (5'10"), far taller than most jockeys.
McCoy recorded his first winner in 1992 at age 17. On 7 November 2013 he rode his 4,000th winner, riding Mountain Tunes to victory at Towcester. Even in his first season riding in Britain, as an apprentice for trainer Toby Balding, McCoy won the Conditional Jump Jockeys Title with a record 74 winners for a conditional jockey. McCoy claimed his first Champion Jockey title in 1995/96 and went on to win it every year until his retirement in 2015.
McCoy has won almost every big race there is to win. His most high-profile winners include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the 2010 Grand National, riding Don't Push It.
He was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, becoming the first jockey to win the award, and in December 2013 he was named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year. He was knighted in January 2016.
McCoy rode his first winner of his career on the Jim Bolger trained Legal Steps, in a flat race at Thurles racecourse in Ireland, on 26 March 1992 at the age of 17. McCoy served as an apprentice at Jim Bolger's stable for the initial part of his career. Whilst riding work for Bolger one morning, McCoy suffered a nasty fall and broke his leg on the gallops. By the time McCoy recovered from his leg break, he had continued to grow taller and as a result it was decided that the best option was to become a jump jockey. Success in Ireland soon led to a move across the Irish Sea, and he began riding in England in 1994. His first win in England came at Exeter on 7 September 1994 riding the Gordon Edwards trained Chickabiddy to a length victory. In his first season in England, McCoy served as a conditional jockey for successful trainer Toby Balding, which culminated in winning the Conditional Jump Jockeys Title in 1995. The following season he became champion jockey for the first time.
McCoy had burst on the scene as a result of his first season riding in Britain and soon attracted the attention of leading trainer Martin Pipe and, then, upcoming (and now current Champion Trainer) Paul Nicholls. McCoy joined forces with powerful trainer Martin Pipe in 1997 and between them they proved to be an exceptionally strong partnership which dominated the sport.
By the end of the decade McCoy had set a new National Hunt record for winners in a season (253), equaled the record of five winners at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival, and became the fastest jockey to reach the 100 winner mark in a season in 2001. He went on to beat the long-standing record of Gordon Richards for the total number of winners ridden in a season, which stood since 1947. McCoy has said he counts this as his biggest achievement, despite his multiple Champion Jockey titles and big race victories.
He beat Richards' record of 269 winners in a season on Valfonic at Warwick on 2 April 2002. He achieved a new high of 289 winners, and on 27 August 2002, at Uttoxeter, his victory on Mighty Montefalco meant he had surpassed Richard Dunwoody's all time jumps record and was now the leading jumps jockey. He became the first jump jockey to ride 2,500 winners when getting Kanpai up to score at Huntingdon on 3 October 2006. McCoy rode his 3000th winner at Plumpton on the Nicky Henderson trained Restless D'Artaix in the Tyser & Co Beginners' Chase on 9 February 2009.
In spite of wins in the biggest races on the jumps racing calendar, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and King George VI Chase, it was the Grand National which had eluded McCoy. The nearest he had in the National were three third-place finishes, in 2001, 2002 aboard Martin Pipe's Blowing Wind, and in 2005 on Jonjo O'Neill's 5-1 joint favourite, Clan Royal, who was still traveling well when hampered by a loose horse cost any chance of victory. McCoy won the Grand National at the fifteenth attempt, on 10 April 2010 aboard Don't Push It, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by J. P. McManus.
In 2012, McCoy won his second Cheltenham Gold Cup on Synchronised, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by JP McManus, 15 years after his first Gold Cup win on Mr Mulligan. McCoy's winning ride on Synchronised typified his career as a jockey. Synchronised appeared outpaced during the first half of the extended 3 mile contest, however, Synchronised stayed on powerfully up the famous Cheltenham hill to pass both former winner Long Run and The Giant Bolster to land blue riband event at the Cheltenham Festival.
During the 2012 Grand National, McCoy's mount Synchronised fell at Becher's Brook, the sixth fence on the first circuit. The horse suffered soft-tissue damage, but did not appear to have sustained serious injury. However, Synchronised continued running riderless, until attempting to jump the 11th fence where he fell and incurred a fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right-hind leg, which resulted in him being put down.
McCoy made a delayed start to the 2013/2014 National Hunt season after breaking his ribs from a heavy fall on the Nicky Henderson trained Quantitativeeasing in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham's end of season April meeting. McCoy, who spent seven nights in hospital, returned to action a month later at Ludlow and immediately opened his account for the season on the JP McManus owned horse Church Field. He surpassed the 100 winner mark for the 2013/2014 season after riding a remarkable 5-timer at Carlisle racecourse in October, closely followed by 5 winners over the two-day Aintree October meeting.
McCoy sealed his 4000th career win riding the Jonjo O'Neill trained Mountain Tunes, in the colours of owner JP McManus, to a hard fought victory in the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle at Towcester on 7 November 2013. His mount, Mountain Tunes, looked to have little chance with two hurdles to jump yet McCoy managed to get up in the final strides to beat Kris Spin ridden by Jamie Moore.
On 30 November 2013, Tony McCoy had the choice to ride at Newbury, or Newcastle. McCoy rode My Tent Or Yours to victory in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, which eventually turned out to be a good decision as on the same day, At Fishers Cross flopped in the Long Walk Hurdle at Newbury. McCoy reached the 150 winners landmark for the 2013/2014 season after riding a double at Ffos Las racecourse on 16 December 2013. This was the 18th time, out of the 20 seasons riding in Britain, he has surpassed 150 winners for a season. At the end of the 2013/14 season, McCoy was crowned Champion jockey for the 19th consecutive time, further extending his record of title wins.
On 10 June 2014, McCoy recorded his fastest ever half century of winners for a season after riding the Rebecca Curtis trained Bob Keown to victory at Worcester Racecourse. McCoy achieved the 50 winner mark for the 2014/15 National Hunt season, which started on 27 April 2014, in just 44 days.
On 19 July 2014, McCoy reached a significant personal milestone by surpassing the total of 4,191 winners which friend and mentor Martin Pipe achieved as a licensed trainer before retirement in 2006. McCoy recorded winner number 4,192 by guiding the Jonjo O'Neill trained It's A Gimme to victory in the Betfred Summer Plate Listed Handicap Chase at Market Rasen Racecourse. McCoy enjoyed a long period of success as stable jockey to the 15 time Champion Trainer Martin Pipe.
McCoy broke his own record for the fastest ever century of winners for a National Hunt season, recording his 100th winner of the 2014/15 campaign on board the John Ferguson trained Arabic History at Newton Abbot Racecourse on 21 August 2014, 116 days into the season. McCoy's previous record, set during the 2001/2002 season, stood at 100 winners by 4 September, approximately 130 days into the season.
McCoy announced live on Channel 4 after his win on Mr Mole in the Game Spirit Chase that he would retire at the end of the 2014/15 NH Season. It was his 200th win of the season, the ninth occasion on which he had reached that landmark, and he later clarified that it would be his last such achievement. His final racecourse appearance was at the Bet365 Gold Cup meeting at Sandown in April 2015.
McCoy was retained by Irish racehorse owner, J. P. McManus and therefore rode all of his horses in Britain and occasionally Ireland. McCoy joined forces with McManus in 2004 after reportedly being offered a £1 million a year retainer. McCoy had previously spent seven years as Martin Pipe's first jockey and many within racing were surprised of his decision to split from the successful Pipe stable. He has won a further 10 jockey titles since their separation.
McManus has the majority of his horses in training with ex-jockey Jonjo O'Neill who trains at the state-of-the-art training facility "Jackdaws Castle" in Gloucestershire, which is owned by McManus. McCoy often rode horses trained by Jonjo O'Neill in addition to those owned by McManus. When he was not required to ride for McManus or O'Neill, McCoy had struck up a number of links with leading national hunt trainers. He rode a number of horses for Welsh-based trainer Rebecca Curtis. He also linked up with powerful trainer Nicky Henderson when his first jockey Barry Geraghty was riding in Ireland. McCoy was most commonly associated with the green and gold hooped silks of McManus.
McCoy was named 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year and in doing so became the first jockey to win the award, polling ahead of darts player Phil Taylor and Olympic heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who finished second and third place respectively. McCoy's win in the 2010 Grand National at his 15th attempt on board the Jonjo O'Neill trained Don't Push It was seen to be the main contributing factor to his win. He was presented with the award by former winner Andrew Flintoff then Arsenal Captain Cesc Fàbregas.
McCoy was made the bookmakers' favourite for the award after his Grand National victory, however there were concerns that those beyond the horse racing fraternity may not fully understand his incredible achievements in racing and subsequently decide to vote for other contenders from "mainstream" sports. He received 293,152 votes, which was more than former winners Zara Phillips (2006), Joe Calzaghe (2007), Sir Chris Hoy (2008) or Ryan Giggs (2009). McCoy's percentage of the vote was 42%, higher than any of his four predecessors.
He made the final shortlist of ten for BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2013 after surpassing the landmark total of 4000 career winners over jumps during the course of the 2013/2014 National Hunt racing season. McCoy finished in third place behind the winner Andy Murray and runner up Leigh Halfpenny. He was named 2013 RTÉ Irish Sports Personality of the Year on 21 December 2013.
McCoy was born in Moneyglass, County Antrim. He and his wife Chanelle have two children. Far taller than most jockeys, he stands 1.78 m (5'10"). To maintain a suitable racing weight, McCoy had to keep his weight down to 63.5 kg (10 stone). His natural weight, based on his physiology, should be about 75 kg (one and a half stone more).
McCoy has written four volumes of autobiography; Real McCoy: My Life So Far (1999), McCoy (2003) and A.P. McCoy: My Autobiography (2011). McCoy's debut novel, Taking the Fall, was published in 2013. and "Winner: My Racing Life" which documents his decision to retire and key moments from his career.
McCoy is an Arsenal fan. The clash between Arsenal fixtures and race meetings means McCoy can only attend a handful of fixtures each season, commonly midweek European and domestic cup fixtures played on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. McCoy is a friend of Arsenal legend Ray Parlour and played a part in the naming of a racehorse The Romford Pele, in reference to Parlour's nickname during his playing days.
In October 2013, it was announced that McCoy is to join BBC Radio 5 Live as a racing pundit every Friday evening on the "5 Live Sport" programme hosted by Dan Walker. BBC head of radio sport Richard Burgess said: "This addition means our audiences will get a regular insight from one of the sport's greats."
Champion Jockey: 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/2013, 2013/2014, 2014/2015
Champion Conditional Jockey: 1994/95
Lester Awards: McCoy has been honoured with 20 Lester Awards during his riding career to date, the most of any jockey past or present.
McCoy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2003 Birthday Honours and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to horse racing.
In December 2013, McCoy was officially awarded three Guinness World Records. He was presented with certificates to mark his record of 289 jump wins in the 2001/2002 season, the most Champion Jump Jockey titles (19) and the most career jump winners, 4022 as of 4 December 2013.
Cheltenham Festival (31)
Other Notable Races
† A British Horse Racing record for most winners ridden in a season by a jockey (flat or jumps), beating Sir Gordon Richards' long-standing record of 269 winners set in 1947