The announcement by Tony Mc Coy that he would retire at the end of this season dominated news and sports headlines over last weekend.
The Man from Moneyglass after winning on Mr Mole for leading owner, JP McManus and registering 200 winners in a season for the ninth time announced on television his intention to retire at the end of this season at Newbury racecourse.
The only people aware in advance of the shock news were his wife, Chanelle, Agent Dave Roberts and his friend and retainer, JP McManus – the Ulster rider’s family in County Antrim learnt the news at the same time as his army of fans and the public.
The multiple British Champion Jump jockey who will record his 20th Championship title at the end of this season paid a timely visit to Leopardstown on Sunday where he was mobbed by fans during racing and appropriately recorded a double on the day for Mc Manus including winning the big race of the day – the Grade 1 Irish Hennessy Gold Cup in a thrilling finish on Carlingford Lough.
The top jockey had also won the handicap hurdle on the progressive Sort It Out trained by Eddie Harty, who related: “It’s amazing the way things work out as my father got him the job with Toby Balding and I gave him his first winner after he reached the 4,000 winners total and that winner now.”
The pair are Cheltenham Festival bound with the big race winner trained by John Kiely, a possible contender for the Gold Cup.
Rarely is the Champion seen so animated in the saddle after passing the winning post and the emotion he felt was clearly visible in the multitude of interviews during the course of the day. The entire McCoy family were on hand at Leopardstown but asked AP Mc Coy said of this week “ It is business as usual.”
The British National Hunt season concludes at Sandown on April 25th and provides the Ulster rider with another three months to add to his tally of winners and possibly bag another couple of major contests while fans come to terms with the living legend retiring.