Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Don't bet against Tony McCoy making 5,000 champions

Northern Ireland's record breaking jockey, Tony McCoy, has the most jump racing wins in a season – 289 in 2001-2002
National hero: Tony McCoy enjoys long-awaited Grand National success, winning at Aintree on Don't Push It in 2010

Tony McCoy has long since moved into the realm of records that were once thought unbreakable. M

artin Pipe's tally of 4,191 winners – which McCoy equalled yesterday at Uttoxeter – is the record for a trainer, and the idea of a jockey reaching that mark, while facing the constant spectre of serious injury, was pretty much unthinkable.

But of course they threw away the mould when they made AP.

The prolific Ulsterman was half way towards Pipe's tally when the trainer retired in 2006 but when McCoy passed the 4,000 mark last November, it became clear what his next target would be.

McCoy, as stable jockey, rode most of Pipe's winners between 1997 and 2004 – leaving to link up with JP McManus – and the pair have remained friends ever since.

They joined forces successfully on more than 1,550 occasions, including winning the 1997 Champion Hurdle with Make A Stand

When iron man McCoy broke the 4,000 barrier, with his 40th birthday then just six months away, the 5,000 winner mark seemed an unrealistic dream.

But since then McCoy has secured a 19th successive champion jockey title and enjoyed his best ever start to a season. He has notched his fastest ever half century of winners, raising hopes that the 300 mark for a season could be reached for the first time.

McCoy holds the current record of 289 and, as the man himself admits, he will need incredibly good luck in terms of injuries if he is to get near the triple century.

But the 5,000 winner tally no longer seems quite so fanciful.

McCoy, at 40, appears to be in the best shape of his life and as hungry for success as ever – if not even more so.

At his current strike rate, McCoy would need only two more seasons to get close to the 5,000 mark.

The Moneyglass man has always said that when he is no longer champion jockey he will call it a day.

But that appears unlikely to happen any time soon.

With the season less than three months old, McCoy is already over 40 winners clear in the title race.

If McCoy is fit and well he will keep riding – and that 5,000 tally will come into his line of vision.

It's hard to view AP as the type to be relishing retirement, away from the cut and thrust of jump racing, the toughest of sports that has seen McCoy pile up a catalogue of horrific injuries that would have ended the careers of lesser mortals.

Many jockeys turn to training when their days in the saddle are at an end and, although not ruling out that possibility, McCoy has admitted that he would find the politics of training difficult.

Training often requires diplomacy when dealing with owners – McCoy is a man who speaks his mind.

McCoy has won all the biggest races, including an emotional Grand National triumph on Don't Push It in 2010.

It was his 15th crack at the big race.

That victory saw McCoy become the first – and so far only – jockey to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

But McCoy has never been a man who placed much store by awards – he deals in the hard currency of winners.

And on current form there should be plenty more of those over the next couple of years.

Bookies are offering 7-2 that McCoy reaches the magical 5,000 mark.

Would you bet against him?

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