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Tony McCoy back in the saddle just 77 days after retiring


Chanelle and Tony McCoy

Chanelle and Tony McCoy

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Chanelle and Tony McCoy

Has Tony McCoy really retired?

The legendary Northern Irish jump jockey supposedly hung up his stirrups for the last time amid emotional scenes at Sandown Park in April.

But now the Moneyglass man has accepted an invitation to ride at the Barbury International Horse Trials next month, fuelling speculation that 'AP' is already missing the adrenalin of competition.

When McCoy lines up for the JCB Champions Challenge at the Wiltshire venue on July 11, it will be just 77 days since he brought the curtain down on an epic career that brought 4,357 wins and 20 Champion Jockey titles.

The 41-year-old had already agreed to be enticed out of retirement for the Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster in September - which was supposedly a one-off flat race for charity.

Now, however, he has brought his return to the saddle further forward and will take part in a specifically designed race with jump jockeys taking on event riders.

The jumps race is being held in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, of which McCoy has always been a keen supporter.

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Nigel Bunter, chairman of the Barbury International Horse Trials, said he was thrilled at McCoy's impending participation in the event.

"Last year the jump jockeys were victorious in the inaugural running of this event with some of the greatest names in horse racing and eventing taking part, and it's also very exciting we will be welcoming AP McCoy to Barbury," he said.

It's not unusual for professional footballers to play in various friendly games after they retire, but horse racing is of course a much more dangerous sport.

In April Chanelle McCoy spoke of her "huge sense of relief" after her husband decided to retire, adding that he'd been going to work every day "with an ambulance following him".

Chanelle admitted, however, that Tony - who is dad to their children Eve (7) and one-year-old Archie - would miss the day to day involvement in horse racing.

But she told Racing UK that his reason for retiring last season was his desire to "go out on top".

"That was really the motivating thing because he really doesn't tick any boxes to retire," she said.

"Injuries don't faze him, he doesn't mind starving, he doesn't mind the hot baths, he doesn't mind hundreds of hours in the car.

"He's still hugely driven."

She also said she knew it would be hard for him to consign his champion career to the retirement bed.

"It was very difficult emotionally for him to make the decision because he loves riding," Chanelle said.

"There's a big part of him that doesn't want to retire.

"He should retire but there is a part of him that is ready to retire."

For his part, Tony said he had been piling on the pounds since he quit, but will have to lose some weight with the Barbury event approaching fast.

"I don't think I have eaten as much in 20 years as I have in the last three weeks," he said last month.

He said he had "pretty much" eaten everything he wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner and felt "guilt".

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