A final hurrah in the Grand National for our champion AP McCoy!
Champion (Noun): A person who has surpassed all rivals in a sporting contest or other competition.
Nowadays, the words ‘champion’, ‘great’ and ‘legend’ are overly subscribed to people that have achieved wonderful things in sport, but haven’t truly merited the word.
So what superlative do you give to someone that has gone beyond that realm? To someone that makes such an impact they change the norm, for the better. To someone that defies biological sense in order to ride through the pain barrier for the success they crave. To someone that ardently believes that 4,300 plus winners just isn’t enough!
AP McCoy is every bit a rightful ‘champion’, ‘great’ and ‘legend’.
After nearly 20 years as our Champion Jump Jockey, AP will say goodbye to the saddle to take up retirement. He retires on his terms.
But what makes him special? What makes him standout?
Numerically, McCoy is the most successful jockey in Britain.
Winner of two Cheltenham Gold Cups, three Champion Hurdles, one Champion Chase and one Grand National, the 40-year-old has virtually won everything racing has to offer.
This combined with a regimental lifestyle approach to his job and a steely determination to win, are the key ingredients to his recipe for success.
Teetotal and a non-smoker, AP has changed the way that jockeys perceive themselves, and are perceived by onlookers.
Long-gone are the days when riders used to have a jar or two down the local before getting on board a fancied runner in a big race. Riders are now athletes – and rightly so.
Because of this attitude and approach to being a jockey, AP McCoy is an inspiration to his colleagues and to the next wave of riders.
But, his career isn’t over just yet.
In the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National, the nation that has often referred to AP as ‘the punters’ pal’ will ride for the final time in the peoples’ race.
Aintree will say goodbye to the magic man, where it is hoped that the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Shutthefrontdoor can ensure a dream send-off can become reality.
In 2014 Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor, McCoy, who will inadvertently become the first jockey in the Aintree marathon’s history to ride in the contest 20 times, has a horse that has the right credentials for National glory.
Victory at Aintree would provide a fitting way to bow out in a race that helped to catapult the 19-time Champion Jockey into the national limelight.
Having come close on three occasions earlier in his career, when finishing third (2001 and 2002 on Blowing Wind and in 2006 on Clan Royal), 2010 was to be the year he finally broke his duck.
After fifteen attempts, Don’t Push It gallantly strode to success on Merseyside to give McCoy ultimate glory in a race he was desperate to win.
It was the catalyst to National stardom – and not the Aintree kind.
Following his National success and a 15th Champion Jockey title, AP McCoy was crowned the 2010 BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner for his achievements in racing, making him a national sporting icon.
If Shutthefrontdoor wins on Merseyside with The Champ in the saddle, his status as a true ‘champion’ will be confirmed.
Like Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, US basketball star Michael Jordan and England World Cup-winning Head Coach Sir Clive Woodward, McCoy will retire on his terms and whilst still performing at his peak.
Leaving the party in full swing is the hallmark of a true great.
But what else did we expect?
AP McCoy has always had that touch of class.