Celebrate AP rather than mourn his exit

AP McCoy calls time on the most successful career in the history of jump racing today and I would have made sure I was in Sandown for it to join in on the celebrations, whether I had a ride or not, writes Ruby Walsh

Celebrate AP rather than mourn his exit

And, listen, that is what today is about: celebrating an incredible career.

I’m sick to the back teeth of how it has been portrayed as a sad day for racing, the end of an era. It will be none of those things. It will be a great day. A very happy day.

For the last two decades, Tony McCoy has lived the dream that every jockey and prospective jockey has harboured. He has been champion 20 times, he’s ridden almost 4,350 winners, 80-odd Grade One winners, 31 Cheltenham Festival winners, including the Gold Cup twice. He’s won the English National, the Irish National, the Scottish National, the Welsh National.


He has fulfilled every ambition that every jockey has and, most importantly, is getting to walk out the other end, to finish up on his own terms.

How is that sad? It’s not.

Sad is Davy Condon being forced to retire this week due to injury. Sad is Robbie McNamara, who will find out in the next few weeks what his future holds.

Horrifically sad is John Thomas McNamara, Jonjo Bright and Shane Broderick, who are in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives.

Tragic is Kieran Kelly, Seán Cleary, Dary Cullen, Jack Tyner and Tom Halliday, who died as a result of injuries incurred in falls.

Those jockeys all set out with the same goals and ambitions as AP but AP got to live the dream. He’s ridden all those winners, been top of the tree every year he has been a professional, he is a brilliant sportsman.

There are young lads riding around fields this morning at 12, 13 and 14 years old winning Grand Nationals in their mind and wanting to be Tony McCoy. He had the dream, lived it and walked out the other end in one piece.

At the back of it all, he’s a great fella. A great person off the track, a brilliant jockey on the track. He has been a great ambassador for racing. He has everything.

But he doesn’t have any more drive than Richard Johnson. He doesn’t have any more of a weight issue than Barry Geraghty, Jason Maguire or Davy Russell. He gets falls and gets broken up just as much as I have, but doesn’t miss a beat. He was just able to put it all together and ride more winners than the rest of us because he was better than us.

So today is the perfect day. Get off Box Office in the parade ring after that handicap hurdle win, lose or draw, and it’s the perfect end to an unbelievable career.

Having said that, it could just end in victory and you know Jonjo and JP will have been planning for that to be the case.

Box Office is very well handicapped and might just provide the fairytale send-off. I wouldn’t give him much chance on Mr Mole though. Special Tiara looks to one to be on there.

Whatever way they go, the bookies are bracing themselves for some flow of sentimental cash I’d say.

I have two rides myself, starting with Vics Canvas (3.50pm) in the Bet365 Gold Cup for Dermot McLoughlin. Good ground might be a question mark given his best form is on softer going but he has a lovely weight with 10-5.

His Paddy Power run in Leopardstown at Christmas, when he was just one-and-a-quarter lengths and a head behind Living Next Door and Foxrock, was a cracking effort.

A reproduction of that would put him bang there.

A lot of those he is coming up against are tired horses, after testing seasons.

A good few of them have run in Aintree, some in the English National.

There aren’t many fresh horses in it but this fella is. He only got to the first in the Irish National and was unlucky there. That was his first run since Christmas and he bolted up in the Cork National before that.

Rocky Creek was disappointing in the Grand National.

Unioniste fell early and was caught early so that could be a plus for him. Wonderful Charm ran a great race at Aintree but it was a hard race and it’s not that long ago.

La Reve would have a chance with good course form and Tony Martin’s Guess Again creeps in with 10 stone, which has to be noted. Grand Jesture ran a blinder when second in the William Hill. But Vics Canvas has oodles of stamina and, at the price, has a great each-way chance.

I have picked up the ride on Bayan (5.35pm) in the last. He won the Ladbroke but was disappointing in France.

It’s a spare because AP was supposed to be on him but they moved around the handicap hurdle. Primarily though, it’s a spare because Davy Condon would be riding him but for having to call it a day. He’s a tough, consistent horse who must have a very big chance.

Punchestown is on the horizon now and all the big guns worked during the week. They are all well.

We’ll be trying to win as many races as we can and, with that in mind, it seems likely that Vautour will go for the Champion Chase rather than taking on Don Poli. A lot of decisions have still to be made, though.


More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox


Saturday, June 12, 2021

  • 5
  • 10
  • 17
  • 22
  • 29
  • 36
  • 25

Full Lotto draw results »