Sir Anthony McCoy, who was knighted in the 2016 New Years Honours list for services to horse racing, was hailed by Racing Post journalist Alistair Down as the ‘riding phenomenon of all time’. On his retirement, in April, 2015, McCoy had ridden a total of 4,358 winners, including ten on the Flat, in Britain and Ireland and won the Jump Jockeys’ Championship in twenty consecutive seasons.
Born in Moneyglass, County Antrim on May 4, 1974, McCoy rode his first winner on British soil, Chickabiddy, trained by Gordon Edwards, at Exeter in September, 1994. Indeed, as conditional jockey to Gerard ‘Toby’ Balding, McCoy rode 74 winners in his debut season, just one short of the 75 required to ride out his claim, but more than enough to run away with the Conditional Jockeys’ Championship. In 1995/96, he won the Jump Jockeys’ Championship for the first time, making him the youngest winner since Josh Gifford in 1962/63; over the next two decades, would break every conceivable record in National Hunt racing.
In 1997, McCoy entered into an arrangement with reigning champion trainer, Martin Pipe, which allowed him to ride any of his horses at his discretion. That same year, McCoy completed the Champion Hurdle – Cheltenham Gold Cup double on Make A Stand, trained by Pipe, and Mr. Mulligan, trained by Noel Chance. In 2001/02, he rode 289 winners, beating the previous record for the most winners in a season by any jockey, Flat or National Hunt, set by Sir Gordon Richards in 1947. In 2004, McCoy became stable jockey to Jonjo O’Neill, in return for a lucrative retainer – reputedly worth £1 million a season – from leading owner John Patrick ‘J.P.’ McManus. The association famously produced a Grand National winner, Don’t Push It, in 2010, and another Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Synchronised, in 2012.