Chanelle McCoy is the newest addition to Dragons’ Den, tipping the gender balance of the panel to three female judges and two male.

While publicly she’s been known as the wife of champion jockey AP McCoy, behind closed doors she is the director of Chanelle Pharmaceutical Group, which has sales of more than €100m a year and operates in 69 markets.

Chanelle is also mum to nine-year-old Eve and Archie, four.

“I always felt going through AP’s career with him, I was busy building up the business, he was obviously busy being a champion jockey for 20 years [and] I used to do interviews in the past I never felt the need to shout about ‘I have a business, I’m my own person.’

"I was really happy and comfortable being known as AP’s wife because it was all about him within reason, during his career, now it’s probably a bit more my turn,” she said.

Right now she works from about 8.30am to 6pm, stops for dinner with her children and then works again from 8pm to 11pm in her home office, in Lambourn, which is an hour outside of London, in the equivalent of the Curragh in Britain.

Chanelle also travels regularly, including to her company’s head office in Loughrea, Co Galway, for one week every month.

She had been asked to do TV projects in the past but had always turned them down until now, while admitting that she made the decision to partake in Dragons’ Den with a deep fear about how she would be perceived: “I was absolutely petrified.

"The one thing that petrified me most was how I was going to be perceived by the other Dragons first, more so than the public because I was very aware that there was a really high standard set, they were absolutely fantastic at being Dragons and I did have a fear that they’d be thinking, oh you know ‘who’s this trophy wife coming in here? You’re AP McCoy’s wife, you know, what have you achieved?’

“So it was nice that they later realised that actually, ‘she is involved in her family business’.”

With her husband now retired she also admits that she can worry far less about the inevitable plethora of injuries that come with being a jockey.

“It’s great AP’s retired. He’s obviously been 20 years a champion jockey and he’s ridden 4,357 winners in his career.

“When I was building up my business while he was going through his career that worry was always hanging over me in terms of injuries and is he going to have a fall? He had on average about a thousand rides a year, so he would probably fall about 7-8% of the time, so he had like 70 to 80 falls a year,” she said.

“There were many of those he’d end up in the hospital. I remember being in a meeting in Germany, a really important meeting, and I could see my phone down on the chair flashing and I could see the doctor’s number coming up, Ruby Walsh’s number coming up, it was a load of jockeys and I didn’t know at the time but he’d just broken his back,” she added.

Roles have since been reversed and last night it was Chanelle’s turn on the Late Late Show sofa, after years spent sitting in the audience.

“It was funny when they asked me to do the Late Late Show and unfortunately he (AP) is away tonight (Friday).

“He’s gone away for a week with Mr McManus (businessman JP) and he said to me: ‘Gosh you know, I’d be sitting in the audience Chanelle and you’d be on the sofa’. Because any time I’ve been to the Late Late Show he’s been on the sofa and I’ve been in the audience so it would have been roles reversed,” said Chanelle.

The eighth series of Dragons’ Den starts on RTÉ One at 9.30pm tomorrow.

The four other Dragons are...

  • Alison Cowzer is the co-founder and marketing/innovation director of East Coast Bakehouse, based in Drogheda. It is Ireland’s only large-scale biscuit manufacturing business.
  • Gavin Duffy, Dragons’ Den’s longest-sitting judge (since 2009), is the founder of media consultancy business Dorland and part owner of HRM Recruitment.
  • Eleanor McEvoy returns to the Dragons’ Den panel for the second time. She is the founder and CEO of Budget Energy Ltd, which provides low-cost electricity in Northern Ireland. Ms McEvoy has more than 65,000 residential and commercial customers.
  • Barry O’Sullivan is CEO of Altocloud, a technology company based both in Galway and San Francisco. This is his third time on the Dragons’ Den panel. Mr O’Sullivan previously served as the senior vice president at Cisco.


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