Masterful McCoy just keeps rolling along

Although for many jumps fans the summer season doesn’t hold any great fascination, there is one constant during the four seasons of the jumps racing year and that is the remarkable will-to-win and consistency of the irrepressible multiple champion jockey Tony McCoy, writes Elliot Slater.

The 18-times champion jockey is one of the world’s outstanding sportsmen and even at the age of 39 – an age by which most National Hunt jockeys have long since hung up their boots – he continues to have an all-consuming desire to ride winners that has already seen him post some 68 successes this term by mid-August.

Once again there is no betting on the destiny of the National Hunt jockeys’ title this season, McCoy having already opened up a lead of 30 winners over Jason Maguire, while the superb Richard Johnson, the perennial runner-up in the chase for the title, is already some 40 winners off the pace.

Even when riding long odds chances in trivial summer races, McCoy’s zest for racing has no bounds. Time and again he has appeared beaten on modest performers only to somehow lift them to well beyond their normal capabilities with often heroic last-gasp successes.

Although he has achieved everything in his stunning career, it was his victory in the 2010 John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on the JP McManus-owned Don’t Push It that probably meant more to McCoy than any other win. For the general public the Grand National is the race, and without it on his CV McCoy could never have contemplated retirement at any point.

Because of his legendary rider Don’t Push It was the subject of a stack of hot tips for the 40-runner handicap and was eventually sent off a heavily backed 10/1 joint-favourite having dominated the betting in the hours leading up to the start of ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’.

Produced with perfect timing to take up the running at the final fence from the gallant Irish challenger Black Appalachi, the Jonjo O’Neil-trained gelding stayed on strongly for McCoy to eventually cross the line five-lengths clear, a victory that sealed victory not only in the fabled contest, but also on the Northern Ireland-born rider becoming the first jockey to win the ‘BBC Sports Personality of the Year’, a reflection of the regard in which he is held across the sporting world.

McCoy will doubtless be back for the 2014 Grand National and be on board one of the likely favourites in the betting for the Liverpool marathon. Another win might just be the cue to bow out in style just a month ahead of his 40th birthday. 

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