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Tony McCoy's winner tuned up in the Mournes


Tony McCoy's success is very much rooted in Ulster, with yesterday's 4,000th winner, Mountain Tunes, triumphant at Tyrella point-to-point in March.

McCoy has also had plenty of support from Ulster trainers over the years – though incredibly, one of them is still awaiting the big breakthrough.

The 18-times champion has ridden a number of times for Glenavy's Neil Mulholland – but has yet to get a winner!

"It's something we have a laugh about – and I've told him he has to ride a winner for me before he retires," said Mulholland, now based in Wiltshire.

"He has ridden six or seven times for me in recent years and I'd like him to ride more for me – but he's a difficult man to get, very much in demand.

"He's a fantastic jockey, the best there is. We won't see his like again.

"AP has tremendous dedication and determination. He's always very positive.

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"He has an air of invincibility even though, like all jockeys, he has had some terrible falls."

Ballymena trainer Ian Ferguson experienced McCoy's hunger for winners when the Moneyglass rider was just starting out.

The teenager rode five winners for Ferguson.

"He worked for my neighbour, the late Billy Rock, when he was little more than a kid and he would come up and ride work for me as well. Even then he was a natural," said Ferguson.

"Billy always raved about him. AP was maybe about seven-and-a-half stone back then, but he could handle big powerful chasers – he had no fear.

"There's no-one to compare him to. He has taken it to a whole new level. His number of winners will never be repeated by anyone else – it's hard to imagine that anyone else would have the determination and commitment required.

"You have to remember the hardship involved – getting up from falls, battling back from so many injuries. It's a hard, demanding sport.

"And he's riding better than ever."

Tyrone-based Andy Oliver is one of Ireland's leading flat trainers and has nothing but admiration for what McCoy has achieved over jumps.

Oliver, who has had runners in some of Europe's top flat races and also trains National Hunt horses, said: "Tony is a great ambassador for racing, a fantastic sportsman. He is very strong, very determined and a fantastic horseman. It looks as though he's going to keep on riding winners for a while yet."

McCoy's presence at the Down Royal Festival at the weekend added a real buzz.

He won the €50,000 WKD Hurdle on Jezki, delighting the record crowd with victory number 3,992.

Down Royal general manager Mike Todd said: "It was great to have Tony riding at Down Royal, especially with the amazing 4,000 winner mark in sight."

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