Belfast Telegraph

AP McCoy a cert for glory in 2014

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

With Jim Gracey

Have you ever actually sat on a horse? It's a long way down... and that's even before the beast sets off on a trot or, horror of horrors, breaks into a gallop.

I think of my own inglorious equine experiences every time I see AP McCoy hurtle over hurdles at breakneck speed as though they weren't even there.

For every one of his 4,000-plus winners, there have been equally challenging downfield finishes on bleak afternoons at racing outposts from Mussellburgh to Exeter. And still he keeps going.

In terms of sheer physical effort, endeavour and bodily punishment, AP must be our greatest sporting gladiator.

His bravery is matched by his modesty. AP tells a story of partnering Tiger Woods at a golf pro-am. Woods was fascinated by AP's frightening catalogue of injuries and asked how he coped.

Woods seeking AP's advice was, he relates: "one of the great privileges of my life." Here is a man who truly suffers for his art.

AP is up for BBC Sports Personality again this Sunday, an award he deservedly cantered to in 2010.

The odds this time are on Andy Murray, a worthy contender, tennis being another arena where you cannot hide.

My money, as always, would be on AP and he'll be disappointed if he misses out as he desperately wants to win everything he's entered for. But greater honour surely lies ahead.

Students of form would consider it a bigger oversight were a certain devotee of the sport of her ancestors not preparing to polish her ceremonial sword when the New Year declarations are made.

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