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Jockey Tony McCoy hits his fastest ton

By Richard Forristal

Tony McCoy last night racked up his fastest ever century of winners – with two weeks to spare!

McCoy rode Crannaghmore Boy and Arabic History to victory at Newton Abbot to easily beat his previous mark of September 4.

McCoy moved to within one of a new personal best when Crannaghmore Boy justified 11-8 favouritism before Arabic Storm became the rider's 100th winner for the season when making a winning debut in the last race.

This latest landmark raises hopes that the prolific Ulsterman can achieve racing's holy grail of 300 winners in a season.

The 40-year-old holds the current record of 289, set back in 2002, and if he can maintain his current brilliant form he has every chance of achieving his aim by the time the season ends in April.

The record bid could well depend on McCoy remaining relatively injury-free in this toughest of sports.

McCoy last month beat retired trainer Martin Pipe's monster tally of 4,191 winners.

The Moneyglass rider, as stable jockey, rode most of Pipe's winners in the period between 1997 and 2004 before linking up with leading owner JP McManus.

McCoy has had a great season so far, notching his fastest ever half century of winners, and is already well on the way to a 20th successive champion jockey title.

McCoy passed the unprecedented 4,000 winners mark last November and at his current strike rate would need only two more seasons to get close to 5,000.

Meanwhile, Jamie Spencer stunned the racing world yesterday by announcing he will retire from riding at the end of the current season to take up a new role with Qatar Racing.

The 34-year-old, who has twice been crowned champion jockey in Britain as well as once in Ireland, is currently retained rider for the powerful operation but will work closely alongside Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and his bloodstock advisor David Redvers providing feedback and advice on their horses.

Spencer said: "This is a fantastic opportunity and if I have learned anything in my riding career it is that you should take such opportunities when they come along. As much as I love race riding, it is not something I want to do for the rest of my life and, while I am not necessarily ready to retire now, I feel at a stage when I am ready for a change.

"I really enjoy being part of the Qatar Racing team, working with Sheikh Fahad, David and everyone in the team, and so the opportunity to continue that and at the same time start the next chapter in my career appealed to me."

The Tipperary rider burst into the big time when winning the Irish 1,000 Guineas aboard Tarascon in 1998 at the age of 17, and has enjoyed plenty of big-race winners during a career that also saw him spend the 2004 season as stable rider for Aidan O'Brien.

He famously shared the British title with Seb Sanders in 2007.

Spencer said: "This has been a big decision and not one I have taken lightly. My priority is my family, and thinking of them and their future has played a key part in my decision. I feel I still have a lot to give to racing, and not just as a jockey."

Spencer had his first success on Huncheon Chance at Downpatrick in 1996.

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