Champion jockey AP McCoy set to retire at the top

Victory on Carlingford Lough in the Hennessey Gold Cup on the Sunday was yet another example of the brilliance of AP McCoy (©GettyImages)

Nineteen-time Champion Jockey AP McCoy shocked the racing world on Saturday when he announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.

The Northern Irishman had just rode his 200th winner of the season on board Mr Mole in the Betfair Price Rush Chase at Newbury when he told Channel 4 Racing of his plans. 

Speaking to Rishi Persad, McCoy said: "It's going to be the last time I ride 200 winners. After speaking to (agent) Dave Roberts and JP McManus (retained owner) I'll be retiring at the end of the season.

McCoy: I want to go out on top

“I just want to go out at the top and I want to go out as champion jockey. It will be my 20th title and I want to go out while I'm still relatively at the top."

McCoy is a man certainly still at the top but the frequency and severity of the injuries he has sustained, particularly the fall he suffered at Worcester in October 2014 which denied him an opportunity of riding 300 winners this season, seem to have caught up with the 40-year-old. 

"I won't miss them but those things challenge you in life and maybe that's the way I am", he said. 

"After the fall at Worcester, at the time I was the only one who knew what I was dealing with. I had a punctured lung, I dislocated a collarbone, I had broken two ribs. I went back riding after three days and managed to break the same collarbone I'd dislocated.

"I had the aspiration of riding 300 winners at that time and I knew I couldn't afford the days off but in the end I had to face up to it. Those three weeks I had off were probably, emotionally, the toughest in my racing career."

4.324 winners

However since announcing his plans on Saturday afternoon McCoy tasted yet more success at Leopardstown on Sunday. 

He firstly rode Sort It Out to victory in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle before taking the Grade 1 Hennessey Gold Cup for the first time in his career on board Carlingford Lough. Victory on the latter saw his odds cut to 12-1 to help McCoy to a third Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

The jockey has amassed a staggering 4,324 winners since his first victory as a 17-year-old in 1992 and more will be added to that record-breaking total before the end of the season on April 25. Enjoy him while you can, for he is the greatest jockey there has ever been. 

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