Typical Tony McCoy... Lauded as sports star of year, then back in saddle hours later
Jockey's whistlestop visit to pick up honour
Whether he is splattered with mud on the racecourse or decked out in a tuxedo at a glitzy awards ceremony, jump jockey AP McCoy lives the life of a champion.
It was a whistlestop visit for the Moneyglass record-breaker as he hot-footed it straight from the racetrack to the airport on Monday to catch a flight to Belfast, before jetting off again in the early hours of yesterday morning.
He had been due to take part in a race in Bangor in Wales, but it was cancelled after heavy rainfall waterlogged the course.
The champion rider then swapped his horse for a late afternoon dash to the airport to get to Belfast in time to be crowned the Belfast Telegraph's Sports Star of the Year.
Flying in from London Heathrow, the 39-year-old had a quick turnaround as he spruced up for the awards, before taking centre stage to receive the title.
His victory was warmly received by the star-studded reception and his family, including his mother Claire McCoy and friends, who gathered at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast.
More than 500 guests were there to applaud Northern Ireland's top amateur and professional sportsmen and women at the ceremony, hosted by Jackie Fullerton.
On accepting his prize McCoy said: "I'm honoured to receive the award ahead of such distinguished athletes.
"It's great to be back in Northern Ireland for the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards and to catch up with family and friends."
After a whirlwind night catching up with friends and family – McCoy had an early wake-up call at 5.30am.
It was business as usual as the jockey boarded the first flight to England to compete in a race in Wetherby in west Yorkshire.
And it was well worth the trip, as he once again grabbed a winner and three places.
It was on November 7 last year when McCoy was propelled into the limelight, as he rode his 4,000th winner – the next most successful jump jockey in history has ridden 2,500 winners.
Despite starting the season with a punctured lung, broken ribs and a fractured sternum – McCoy, who celebrates his 40th birthday this coming May – was back in the saddle after missing just three-and-a-half weeks.
When McCoy's race meeting in Wales on Monday was cancelled, he boarded a plane late afternoon and arrived in Belfast at around 6pm. He arrived on stage at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast for his award at around 11.30pm. He checked out at 6.20am and flew to west Yorkshire, where he won the Wetherby race at 1.55pm.
Another accolade added to long list
Tony McCoy recorded his first winner aged just 17.
It was the first of many to come for the champion jump jockey who was born and raised in Moneyglass in Co Antrim.
In the past year, the 39-year-old was propelled in to the limelight as he rode his 4,000th winner, riding Mountain Tunes to victory at Towcester. It came almost 20 years after he secured his first British win on September 7, 1994, on the Gordon Edwards-trained Chickabiddy.
It was a historic moment for the jump jockey who had headed into the Exeter meet needing just two wins to reach the target, after a double at Kempton courtesy of Captain Cutter and Foundation Man left him on 3,998 winners over jumps.
On November 7 at the Weatherbys Novices' Hurdle, McCoy rode a horse trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by JP McManus – both long-time friends of the Co Antrim rider.
With two hurdles left, Mountain Tunes looked out of the running but 'AP' refused to give up on his mount.
His wife Chanelle, daughter Eve, son Archie, dad Peadar and brother Colm were at the finish line to celebrate while his mum Claire and sisters cheered on from home.
In 2010 McCoy became the first jockey ever to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and in the same year received an OBE.
McCoy claimed his first champion jockey title in 1995/96 and as of 2012/ 2013 he has won 18 consecutive titles. His most high profile wins include the prestigious Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and the King George VI Chase.