Belfast Telegraph

Tony McCoy's wife Chanelle reveals how she nearly left star jockey for another man

By Linda Stewart

Chanelle McCoy has revealed the crunch moment she almost left her champion jockey husband - after meeting another man.

The wife of AP McCoy has revealed she walked out on him several times after years of controlling behaviour, but that crisis led him to change for good.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, she said they both now acknowledge an unhealthy pattern developed in the early days of their relationship.

"His sick way of controlling me was connected to his crippling fear of failure," Chanelle said.

"I would get home and he would be sitting there bawling his eyes out. He had become Champion Jockey but he was driving himself demented thinking he might not be number one the following year.

"I could see where the madness was coming from, and I knew that underneath it he was fundamentally a good person, but I also knew that he was never going to make me happy unless he could be happy in himself."

The turning point came eight years into the relationship when AP backed out of attending the wedding of one of Chanelle's closest friends to go on a lads' golf trip. "I told AP it was over between us. With every other bust-up, he had known he could get me back, but that one was different," Chanelle said.

"I had met this other guy - nothing had happened, but he was everything that AP wasn't - and AP was convinced he had blown it. From that day, he changed.

"We don't row very much now. I joke sometimes that we must be due an argument, but not so long ago, he said 'Chanelle, I know you don't need me, but I need you'.

"And I love him to bits and would be devastated without him, but I have my job, my friends, my family and my own money and I'm not at his mercy, and that is the difference."

A new fly-on-the-wall documentary released this week offers an insight into a loving but sometimes tempestuous relationship.

'Being AP' chronicles AP's 20th consecutive season as Champion Jockey - also his last. The sporting star retired in April, days before his 41st birthday.

The film has already garnered rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival and explores the shocking risks he took every day.

Chanelle's main job is as director of Chanelle Medical, a pharmaceutical company with 350 employees and an £80m annual turnover - set up by her vet father Michael Burke in the 1980s.

She has also recently opened a boutique Mojo & McCoy, in Hungerford, close to the couple's 80-acre estate in Berkshire.

Chanelle says she has always been a worker and figured out early on that it was important not to stop.

"I go into the office and people are asking my opinion, we are achieving targets and creating jobs, and if AP and I happen to have had a massive argument that morning, I am not sitting at home feeling crushed. I'm like: 'He's so irrelevant'."

Chanelle says she has never dreaded the worst, as her husband's sense of invincibility has rubbed off on her.

When she saw him taking a fall on live TV, her reaction was to call AP's driver and ask him to go down to the fence.

"I needed to know two things - was he conscious and was he moving his legs? And if the answer to both those questions was yes, anything else was a doddle. Broken bones and punctured lungs are always fixable; head injuries and paralysis are not."

The couple discovered early on that AP had an extremely low sperm count after years of immersing himself in hot baths at least six days a week to keep his weight down and would never be able to father children naturally.

"I told him 'If you come home in a wheelchair after a race, that's a problem. This isn't a problem'," she said. Four years later, in 2006, they married and by February 2007, Chanelle was pregnant with Eve after their first IVF attempt.

But fatherhood had little effect on the relentless schedule until 18 months ago, when their six-month-old son Archie had to undergo a six-hour operation to correct a heart defect.

Despite the clash with the run-up to the Cheltenham Festival, AP stayed with Chanelle in hospital.

"He was amazing," she said.

"I remember my legs were like jelly, but he asked the doctors all the right questions and was next to Archie as he was put under anaesthetic.

"Then, while we waited for it all to be over, we went to a nearby church and lit candles and talked - just the two of us. He had never seen me in pieces like that - he's used to me running the show - but for the first time he had to take over and he was brilliant."

Belfast Telegraph


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