Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Racing

Tony McCoy is box office right up to the finish line

By Frank Brownlow

At around 5.45pm on Saturday, Tony McCoy will dismount at Sandown and can deservedly soak up the adulation that will pour down from the packed Sandown stands.

It seems only right that his last ever ride will be on a horse called Box Office - for two decades the Ulsterman has been jump racing's greatest asset and his retirement has led to Sandown being a 20,000 sell-out on Saturday.

McCoy - who turns 41 on Monday week - will be crowned champion jockey for an incredible 20th successive time on Saturday.

He has quite simply been a phenomenon.

McCoy will retire having ridden over 4,350 winners - a tally no other jockey will ever get close to.

Before he started out on his incredible journey, his fellow Ulsterman Richard Dunwoody held the previous record - 1,699.

McCoy also holds the record for most winners in a season - 289 in the 2001/2 campaign.

Earlier this season he looked on course to break the 300 barrier but injury - that ever-present occupational hazard - intervened and he is currently on 231.

McCoy has won all the big races, but will always be remembered for his emotional 2010 Grand National triumph on board Don't Push It at his 15th attempt in the Aintree showpiece.

The AP McCoy Celebration Chase will be run at Sandown on Saturday to honour the Moneyglass rider.

In that race, McCoy will ride Mr Mole, the horse on which he racked up his 200th win of the season - before promptly announcing his end-of-season retirement on live television back in February.

"Since announcing that I would be retiring at the end of the season, things haven't really been any different than usual," McCoy said.

"That's because I'm still getting up every morning and going about the business of riding horses.

"How I'll feel when I've actually retired, who knows? I'm sure I'll be fine but retirement has always been something that has filled me with dread," he admitted.

Provided the ground is not too firm for Box Office, McCoy will sign off in the green and gold silks of leading owner JP McManus, with whom he has had a long association.

Box Office has run at both Cheltenham and Aintree this season, finishing seventh at both festivals.

"Whether Box Office runs is a little bit ground dependent, but it is our intention to do so," said Frank Berry, McManus's racing manager.

"If they water well and it is good, safe ground then I'm sure he'll run."

There is also a possibility of McCoy riding Lost Legend - like Box Office, trained by Jonjo O'Neill - in Saturday's Gold Cup.

The defection of Rocky Creek, who is 50-50 to run according to trainer Paul Nicholls, would leave Ulster-bred Bobs Worth at the head of the field and prompt a 5lb rise in the weights.

That would mean Lost Legend carrying 10st 8lb, a weight comfortably within McCoy's reach.

Speculation that Davy Russell will succeed McCoy as retained rider to JP McManus grew after Paddy Power quoted him as 11-10 joint-favourite with Barry Geraghty to land one of racing's top jobs.

Geraghty was previously 1-6 for the role, while Russell was originally 33-1.

Berry said: "Nothing has been discussed yet, and it won't be until after AP has retired."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph