My admiration for jockeys knows no bounds. No, I’m not talking about those who steer home a 10/1 winner whose name is written on a docket I’m carrying – though when that happens and I’m at the meeting, I like to greet the pilot as he makes his way back to the winners’ enclosure with a ‘well done’.
What I’m on about is jockeys in general, especially those who trade their wares in National Hunt races. I make no apologies if this is a repeat of something that went before on this page; whenever I read of a daring deed, or be there to see it happen, I just like to give it some recognition.
Tony McCoy has been daring as well as polished in the saddle for some considerable time. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been champion jockey for 18 years running. He got the best schooling possible, having served part of his apprenticeship with Jim Bolger, who also had Aidan O’Brien and Paul Carberry as pupils at his Co Carlow yard.
McCoy wouldn’t be the most successful jump jockey of all time if he wasn’t brave or have the ability to overcome the most serious of injuries. There’s hardly a bone he hasn’t broken; and unlike some of those overpaid, overbearing soccer players, who go to ground with the slightest tip, when he falls off horse and writhes in agony you can be sure he hasn’t taken a dive.
He took a fall at Cheltenham just over a month ago, and when it was revealed he’d cracked ribs the opinion was he’d be back in a matter of weeks. However, the injury was severe enough to have him hospitalised for longer than expected; but never at any point could he see himself not being back to make a bid for a 19th title.
This is a driven man, as determined to get whatever he’s riding over the line in front as he is to resume racing racing whenever he’s lying on the broad of his back nursing an injury. Not all of his mounts win, but each will know they’ve been in a race.
He made his latest return to racing at Ludlow last Friday a winning one; and it will surprise no-one that he was brave enough to take his chance in a race confined to novices, who are never the safest of conveyances.
His comment afterwards: “I am still a bit sore, but other than that I feel fine....the plan will be the same as every season – to be champion again.”
Most of the seasons he’s been champion, McCoy has ridden 200 winners. If he only gets to 125 he’ll still reach another huge landmark in his career – the one with 4,000 written on it.