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Champion jockey Tony McCoy finally makes it to the palace for his OBE

Tony McCoy has finally collected his OBE - 12 months after the honour was bestowed on the champion jockey.

The Antrim man, who has ridden more than 3,000 winners attended a ceremony in the Buckingham Palace ballroom yesterday.

He had been due to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle last November but was forced to decline the invitation because he had a race at Folkstone - 96 miles away.

At the time his agent claimed racing would always come first.

"He didn't go because he was racing and that was always going to be the case. He is a racer first, that's why he is a champion jockey," said Gee Armitage

Yesterday, however, there was no clash and the top rider, who won his 15th consecutive British Jump Racing Champion Jockey title last season, was joined by three-year-old daughter Eve and wife Chanelle for his royal day out.

"It's obviously an amazing honour and something that I'm very proud of," he said.

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"This has been a pretty special time for me. Trying to replicate it won't be easy."

McCoy said he enjoyed speaking to the Queen about their shared love of horses.

"We spoke a little bit about how many times I've been champion jockey and mentioned her horse Carlton House. She's pretty knowledgeable on her racing, so it made it quite easy for me.

"I was never going to be stuck for something to talk about with her."

Meanwhile, musician Annie Lennox was also among those receiving medals. The 56-year-old former Eurythmics singer who was honoured for her work fighting Aids and poverty in Africa described being awarded an OBE by the Queen as "magical".

"It's really meaningful to me that it's for charity work," she said. "Campaigning has been taking up a great deal of my commitment for quite a few years, and what it means is that there's a significance to what I'm doing - I'm not just working in a void.

"To get this acknowledgement means people are listening."

Lennox met the Queen earlier this year at a Westminster Abbey service for Commonwealth Day, and said the monarch remembered the 'HIV Positive' T-shirt she wore on that occasion.

Asked if she had been tempted to wear a similar T-shirt to receive her OBE, Lennox smiled and replied: "I don't think I would have got away with wearing that."

Instead, Lennox - accompanied by her daughters Tali and Lola - wore a purple taffeta dress with a pleated skirt, topped off with a matching vintage felt hat.

Admitting her pearl accessories were not as expensive as they looked, the Aberdeen-born artist said: "My bracelet and necklace are from a Christmas cracker."

She has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide with the Eurythmics and as a solo star, winning a string of awards.


Also known as AP, Tony McCoy is one of Britain's most successful jump jockeys. He has had over 3,000 winners including the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and King George VI Chase.

He also retained the title of champion jump jockey for the 15th consecutive season and last year won his first Aintree Grand National on Don't Push It - on his 15th attempt in the famous race. McCoy was named the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

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