Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Tony McCoy's winner tuned up in the Mournes

Local hero: Tony McCoy, pictured here at the Down Royal Festival, is always a massive favourite with Northern Ireland fans
Local hero: Tony McCoy, pictured here at the Down Royal Festival, is always a massive favourite with Northern Ireland fans

Tony McCoy's success is very much rooted in Ulster, with yesterday's 4,000th winner, Mountain Tunes, triumphant at Tyrella point-to-point in March.

McCoy has also had plenty of support from Ulster trainers over the years – though incredibly, one of them is still awaiting the big breakthrough.

The 18-times champion has ridden a number of times for Glenavy's Neil Mulholland – but has yet to get a winner!

"It's something we have a laugh about – and I've told him he has to ride a winner for me before he retires," said Mulholland, now based in Wiltshire.

"He has ridden six or seven times for me in recent years and I'd like him to ride more for me – but he's a difficult man to get, very much in demand.

"He's a fantastic jockey, the best there is. We won't see his like again.

"AP has tremendous dedication and determination. He's always very positive.

"He has an air of invincibility even though, like all jockeys, he has had some terrible falls."

Ballymena trainer Ian Ferguson experienced McCoy's hunger for winners when the Moneyglass rider was just starting out.

The teenager rode five winners for Ferguson.

"He worked for my neighbour, the late Billy Rock, when he was little more than a kid and he would come up and ride work for me as well. Even then he was a natural," said Ferguson.

"Billy always raved about him. AP was maybe about seven-and-a-half stone back then, but he could handle big powerful chasers – he had no fear.

"There's no-one to compare him to. He has taken it to a whole new level. His number of winners will never be repeated by anyone else – it's hard to imagine that anyone else would have the determination and commitment required.

"You have to remember the hardship involved – getting up from falls, battling back from so many injuries. It's a hard, demanding sport.

"And he's riding better than ever."

Tyrone-based Andy Oliver is one of Ireland's leading flat trainers and has nothing but admiration for what McCoy has achieved over jumps.

Oliver, who has had runners in some of Europe's top flat races and also trains National Hunt horses, said: "Tony is a great ambassador for racing, a fantastic sportsman. He is very strong, very determined and a fantastic horseman. It looks as though he's going to keep on riding winners for a while yet."

McCoy's presence at the Down Royal Festival at the weekend added a real buzz.

He won the €50,000 WKD Hurdle on Jezki, delighting the record crowd with victory number 3,992.

Down Royal general manager Mike Todd said: "It was great to have Tony riding at Down Royal, especially with the amazing 4,000 winner mark in sight."

Trilling ride see Northern Ireland man secure 4,000th winner at Towcester

Tony McCoy's winner tuned up in the Mournes

AP should stand for Absolutely Phenomenal

Tony McCoy is tipped to stay at the top for years

Martin Pipe so proud of totally dedicated, incredible jockey

Even the bookies raise a glass in AP's honour

Richard Johnson joins in appreciation for his old adversary

Peadar 'felt like crying' after seeing son Tony reach milestone

 McCoy makes history at Towcester with 4,000 career wins

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