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AP McCoy would 'give his arm to ride in Gold Cup again'

By Chris McCullough

Retired champion jockey Sir Tony McCoy has said he would give up all his success if it meant he could get back in the saddle tomorrow.

The record-breaking Moneyglass man said there are still days when he wonders if he did the right thing by giving up the sport he loves.

McCoy raced his final competitive furlong in April 2015 at Sandown Park racecourse and now feeds his equestrian appetite by schooling other people's horses.

But there are many moments when he questions his own wisdom in stepping down, never to race again. He said: "I'd love to be starting again. I'd love to have it all ahead of me. I'd give it all back tomorrow.

"I'd give it all back, even now, if I could even just change my name and go back riding for another year or two without anyone knowing it was me. I'd love to do that. I think I'd be a lot better.

"I have moments all the time when I wonder if I did the right thing. I schooled two horses at Jonjo O'Neill's yard, More of That and Minella Rocco.

"Both of them are running in the Cheltenham Gold Cup later this month. I'd have given my arm to be riding one of them in the Gold Cup. Very few sportspeople go out at the very top. It's a hard thing to do. It kills you. I was always stubborn enough to say this was my choice and this was what was going to happen."

McCoy said he recently met former Ireland rugby union star Paul O'Connell and it seems 'life after retirement' featured in their private conversation.

"I felt glad it wasn't just me," he said.

"I saw a lot of myself in him.

"There are days I get up and if I am at home any more than two days, I need to get out.

"I got up in the morning every day for 20 years with fear in my soul.

"Thinking I was worried about myself, thinking I needed to perform.

"And that was every day.

"Now when I get up, I might go racing somewhere if JP's (Irish racehorse owner and businessman JP McManus) got a runner, but it doesn't really matter if I go or not go."

Another sportsman that McCoy admires who hasn't quit while he is ahead, is tennis ace Roger Federer.

McCoy said: "Most people can't quit at the top because they still love it. Why would you quit?

"A perfect example of it is Roger Federer. For the last three years, I have been wondering why is Federer still playing.

"He is the best tennis player ever.

"He is brilliant to watch. You would never lose respect for Federer but people might think he ended up getting beat the last three or four years he was playing. Then he won the Australian Open and you think he was right not to give up.

"There are a lot of moments when I think I retired too early. But I'm too stubborn to go back. I'd rather suffer and think I had a good time.

"I'm too stubborn to admit I might have made a mistake. It kills me that I retired but in a way I know it was the right thing. I won 20 jockeys' championships. When you get into your 40s as a sportsman, you have done your time. No matter how much you see other people competing and think you could do that, you have to be brave enough to think I had my time."

McCoy, who lives in England with wife Chanelle (39) and their two children, Eve (8) and two-year-old Archie, has been doing media work since he brought the final curtain down on a career that yielded a massive 4,358 winners.

Belfast Telegraph

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